Skip Navigation

News Release

USDA NRCS Accepts Applications from Florida Producers, Landowners for EQIP Urban Agricultural Initiative

CONTACTS:
Cynthia Portalatin, Public Affairs Specialist, cynthia.portalatin@usda.gov
Teri Nehls, EQIP State Program Manager, teri.nehls@usda.gov

Urban_Areas_Florida-Map-home pg.jpgGAINESVILLE, FLORIDA, March 7, 2022 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced it is accepting applications from Florida urban agricultural producers for Urban Agriculture and Innovation Production (UAIP) projects under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), which offers producers technical and financial assistance to address resource concerns on their land.

While USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) accepts these applications year-round, Florida producers and landowners should apply by May 13, 2022, to be considered for funding in the current cycle. Applications received after the batching date will automatically be considered during the next funding cycle. Approximately $500,000 in funding will be available to Florida participants through a competitive process.

“Urban agriculture projects can help improve nutrition and food access and increase local food production in urban communities,” said Juan Hernandez, State Conservationist for the USDA Florida Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). “With 80 percent of the U.S. population living in or near urban centers, urban agriculture can make a significant positive impact on the health and well-being of many individuals. “

“Agriculture is not defined by the location of the farm or the size of the plot. Agriculture is the source of our Nation’s food and fiber, and it continues to grow in impact and importance in our urban areas,” said Deborah Tannenbaum, State Executive Director for the USDA Florida Farm Service Agency (FSA).

Why Urban Farming?
NRCS serves all agriculture – large to small, conventional to organic, rural to urban. As American agriculture continues to grow in new directions, NRCS conservation assistance is growing along with it. By bringing cultivation and opportunity to both rural and urban areas, NRCS addresses many needs to restore the health of the soil and the health of people.

Urban agriculture pioneers are taking action in their communities, growing not only fresh, healthy produce, but increasing opportunity and knowledge and improving the beauty of their neighborhoods. Through community gardens, produce is being grown and donated to those who need it, and children and adults are learning about agriculture first-hand. Farmer’s markets are offering easy access to fresh foods in areas where grocery stores are miles away and are providing new income streams for residents.

Get Started
Eligible areas for the program are those that have a population of 50 thousand or higher and include a two-mile adjoining radius. Urban agricultural projects will be ranked according to priority resource concerns. The top three resource concerns in Florida are: source water depletion; degraded plant conditions; and field, sediment, nutrient, and pathogen loss. Other priority resource concerns include field pesticide loss, inefficient energy use, pest pressure, soil quality limitations, terrestrial habitat, weather resilience, and storage and handling of pollutants. All practices, except conservation planning activities, are eligible and all land uses are eligible for the urban agriculture program.

Starting an urban farm comes with a unique set of challenges and opportunities. NRCS can help with the challenges of conservation and support urban farmers in their efforts to achieve local, healthy, sustainable food for their communities.

To apply for EQIP’s EQIP Urban Agricultural Initiative projects, contact NRCS at your local USDA Service Center. Find your local Service Center at www.farmers.gov/service-locator. Service Center staff continue to work with agricultural producers via phone, email, and other digital tools. Because of the pandemic, some USDA Service Centers are open to limited visitors. Contact your Service Center to set up an in-person or phone appointment. On farmers.gov, you can create a secure account, apply for NRCS programs, electronically sign documents and manage your conservation contracts.

Office of Urban Agriculture
The Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production was established through the 2018 Farm Bill. It is led by NRCS and works in partnership with numerous USDA agencies, including FSA, to support urban agriculture. Its mission is to encourage and promote urban, indoor, and other emerging agricultural practices, including community composting and food waste reduction.

The USDA boldly supports urban agriculture across the Nation through grants and agreements, Urban County Committees, and Soil and Water Conservation Districts. Most recently, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack created a new advisory committee which will identify barriers and advise USDA on urban agriculture policies and outreach practices. More information is available at farmers.gov/urban.

-NRCS-