Richmond, VA, November 7, 2013 – Virginia farmers and forest land owners can now apply for assistance to protect the health and productivity of their land with Farm Bill conservation programs administered through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in 2014.
Technical and financial assistance is available for cropland, grazing, and animal waste management practices through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Land owners can also sign up for the Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP) to get help establishing and improving fish and wildlife habitat on their property.
NRCS accepts applications year-round but makes funding selections at specific times. Application cutoff dates for the 2014 program year are December 20, January 17, and February 21. It is especially important for producers to get their applications in as soon as possible to be eligible for limited funding.
“With the expiration of the 2008 Farm Bill, our program offerings are more limited than in previous years,” said Jack Bricker, Virginia NRCS State Conservationist. “We no longer have the authority to take new enrollments for the Wetlands Reserve Program, Grassland Reserve Program and Chesapeake Bay Watershed Initiative.”
“However, NRCS is still here to help farmers across the state with conservation practices that promote clean air and water, healthy soil, and wildlife habitat. That assistance will now be provided through EQIP or WHIP. We also want to emphasize the availability of our conservation planning services, which are offered at no charge and are the foundation for program participation.”
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 district 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 Virginia website at www.va.nrcs.usda.gov.