Important Deadline set for Maryland Conservation Programs
Annapolis, Md., December 13, 2012– The USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service in Maryland has $11 million available for producers interested in improving the health and productivity of their land in 2013.
“Many farmers may not realize that although the 2008 Farm Bill has expired, NRCS is still offering technical and financial assistance to address resource concerns on crop and grazing lands, protect wildlife habitat, and keep land in agricultural production,” said Tom Morgart, Acting Maryland NRCS State Conservationist.
Farmers can sign up for conservation programs throughout the year, but funding selections are made at specific times and the first cutoff date is January 18, 2013. It is especially important for producers to get their applications in as soon as possible to be considered for limited funding.
“The Environmental Quality Incentives Program or EQIP is our most robust offering with many options for Maryland producers,” says Morgart. “This year, we have important livestock-related practices including manure storage, stream protection, heavy use areas, nutrient management planning, and manure management systems.”
The National EQIP Organic, Energy, and High Tunnel Initiatives are back this year. Through these initiatives NRCS seeks to help producers who are certified organic growers or working to achieve organic certification install conservation practices for organic production, help eligible producers plan and implement high tunnels, help producers to develop farm energy audits, and implement energy-saving conservation practices. Conservation Activity Plans are also available to help farmers better manage their resources.
Working Lands for Wildlife or WLFL is back for 2013 as well. Through this initiative, NRCS can provide funding to help reverse the decline of the threatened Golden-Winged Warbler and for Bog Turtle habitat restoration activities. Landowners in areas known to support these two species can apply for financial assistance for the improvement of wetland habitat for Bog Turtle Warbler (in Baltimore, Cecil, Carroll, or Harford Counties) or establishment of native grasses and forbs and early successional habitat for Golden-Winged Warbler (in Allegany, Garrett, or Washington Counties).
The Agricultural Management Assistance or AMA program will offer irrigation related practices in 2013.
In 2012, Maryland NRCS provided more than $26 million to producers statewide. However, the number of applications received far exceeded the amount of funding available. Producers are encouraged to apply immediately to ensure consideration for this funding cycle.
If you are interested in Farm Bill programs, contact your local NRCS office to identify and plan the conservation measures you would like to implement on your land. The conservationist can help you develop a plan, identify recommended practices, and pursue funding through one of the many Farm Bill program options available. USDA service center locations are listed online at http://offices.usda.gov or in the phone book under Federal Government, U.S. Department of Agriculture. General program information is available on the NRCS Maryland website at www.md.nrcs.usda.gov.
For more information about NRCS conservation programs online, visit: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov, or visit your local USDA Service Center.