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News Release

Additional Opportunity Available for Agricultural Assistance in Florida

Contact:  Jeffrey Woods, 352-338-9515 
                Renee Bodine, 352-338-9565

Applications due by February 21, 2014                                                                        

GAINESVILLE, FL., Jan. 21, 2014--The 2008 Farm Bill was recently granted a short extension by Congress.  This extension allows the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Florida to give farmers and ranchers an additional opportunity to improve water and air quality, build healthier soil, improve forest lands, conserve energy, enhance organic operations, and achieve other environmental benefits.

“We are very happy to be able to offer an additional signup period for Florida agriculture producers,” said NRCS State Conservationist Russell Morgan.  “This is going to give more producers time to submit their applications and help them get started implementing the practices they need to benefit the natural resources on their operations.”

Interested producers should visit their local NRCS service center now to receive more information on the:

  • Organic Initiative--helps producers install conservation practices on USDA certified organic operations or those working toward organic certification.
  • Seasonal High Tunnel Initiative--helps producers install high tunnels designed to extend the growing season, increase productivity, keep plants at a steady temperature, and conserve water and energy.
  • On-farm Energy Initiative--helps producers conserve energy on their operations.
  • Longleaf Pine Initiative--helps private landowners improve the sustainability and profitability of Longleaf pine forest ecosystems.
  • Working Lands for Wildlife Initiative--provides technical and financial assistance for landowners who voluntarily choose to implement conservation practices that benefit the habitat of the target species--the gopher tortoise in Florida--while continuing to manage the habitat as working lands.            
  • Gulf of Mexico Initiative--helps producers located in the Escambia River and Middle Suwannee River Area watersheds to focus on reducing soil erosion, improving soil health, improving water quality, and wildlife habitat on cropland, pastureland and forestland.  Producers located in these watersheds can sign up for assistance under this initiative by contacting the local NRCS office below:
    • Suwannee County District Conservationist Chris Menhennett at (386) 362-2622, x3, 10096 Highway 129, Live Oak, FL, 32060.
    • Lafayette County District Conservationist Melvin DeShazior at (386)  294-1851, x3, 176 SW Community Circle, Suite C, Mayo, FL,  32066.  
    • Escambia County District Conservationist Josh McElhaney at (850) 587-5404, x3, 151 Highway 97, Molino, FL, 32577.
    • Santa Rosa County District Conservationist Trent Mathews at (850) 623-3229, x3, 6285 Dogwood Drive, Milton, FL, 32570-3544.                                               

After talking to your local NRCS staff, producers may apply for conservation technical assistance and possible financial assistance under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and the Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP).  Applications must be filed no later than February 21, 2014, to be eligible for this year’s funding.

Although applications are accepted on a continuous basis, the February 21st date has been set to make FY 2014 funding decisions for these special initiatives.  As with all NRCS programs, producers may continue to apply throughout the year and will be considered for future funding, if available.

Additional information on NRCS, conservation assistance, and available programs is offered on its website at www.fl.nrcs.usda.gov or at your local USDA - NRCS office. To find the nearest office go to: http://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov/locator/app.

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