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Press Release

USDA Biofouling Conservation Practice Signup Extended for Rhode Island Oyster Farmers

Sign up extended to June 7th for fiscal year 2024 Bivalve Aquaculture Gear and Biofouling Control practice funding
Publish Date
Rhode Island Oyster farmers haul in oyster tray with heavy biofouling from algaes and sponges (photo by JA Macfarlan, RIDEM)

NRCS is extending our fiscal year 2024 signup to June 7, 2024, for Rhode Island oyster farmers interested in Bivalve Aquaculture Gear and Biofouling Control. Shellfish farmers can apply for this practice only under this specific extension. No additional conservation practices will be offered.

Bivalve Aquaculture Gear and Biofouling Control is used to cycle new aquaculture gear with existing production gear in waters where gear biofouling occurs. The farmed shellfish are transferred from the biofouled gear to the clean gear and returned to the water. The biofouled gear is then removed from the aquaculture site and taken on land to be cleaned using environmentally sound methods including air drying, brine dip, vinegar dip, freshwater dip, sweeping, power washing, or some combination of these.

Due to limited funding availability, fiscal year 2024 contract lengths will not exceed two years when applying under this announcement. In addition, there is a $20,000 Practice Cap in fiscal year 2024 for all applicants that receive an approved contract.

Applying for Assistance

Funding is provided through a competitive process. Limited funding is available for this specific practice in fiscal year 2024. NRCS accepts applications for its conservation programs year-round but sets specific ranking dates to evaluate applications for funding. These dates account for producer needs, staff workload and ensure potential participants have ample opportunity to apply. All applications for Gear Cycling received to date, and by June 7, 2024, will be ranked competitively in one pool and will be subject to the practice cap and contract length limitation. Selections will be based on ranking order until available funding is utilized. Applications received after this ranking date will be automatically deferred to the next funding period.

NRCS is a federal agency that works hand-in-hand with conservation districts and the people of Rhode Island to improve and protect soil, water, air, plants, animals and other natural resources. For more information, visit

Call NRCS Rhode Island today to see how we can help you help your land!

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