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Conservation funding deadlines set for Maine farmers this summer

Application cut-off for Fiscal Year 2023 funding consideration is Aug. 26, 2022

(PDF version)

BANGOR, Maine (June 27, 2022) – Maine farmers seeking conservation planning and financial assistance should contact their local USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) office soon for help treating natural resource concerns.

Applications for all NRCS programs are accepted on a continuous basis, however, NRCS establishes application “cut-off” dates for evaluation and ranking of eligible applications.

For consideration in Fiscal Year 2023, the application cut-off date is Aug. 26, 2022.

This includes applications for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), the Agricultural Management Assistance (AMA) program, Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), and the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP).

Applicants will be asked to work with NRCS conservation planners to assess resource needs and agree on practices to treat these needs.


Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)

Using EQIP assistance, farmers can adopt structural and management practices that help treat a natural resource concern, such as soil erosion or water quality, on working

agricultural lands. Many of the available practices also provide supplemental benefits such as improved soil health, wildlife habitat and energy conservation. Along with traditional conservation practices such as grassed waterways and buffer strips, farmers can use EQIP to help implement practices that improve management of manure, nutrients and pastures. Farmers may also adopt popular management practices like no-till and cover crops through EQIP.

EQIP can also be helpful for transitioning to organic production, developing a rotational grazing system, adding pollinator habitat to a farm, building a high-tunnel system for fruit and vegetable production, or constructing a denitrifying bioreactor or saturated buffer to improve water quality.

NRCS sets aside five percent of EQIP funding for historically underserved customers, which include beginning farmers, socially disadvantaged farmers, limited resource producers, Tribal farmers, and veterans. These customers receive a higher EQIP payment rate on their conservation practices and are eligible to request advance payment to offset the cost of materials or services needed to begin implementing the contracted conservation practices.


Agricultural Management Assistance (AMA)

AMA helps agricultural producers manage financial risk through diversification, marketing or natural resource conservation practices. NRCS administers the conservation provisions while Agricultural Marketing Service and Risk Management Agency implement the production diversification and marketing provisions. Using AMA, producers may construct or improve water management structures or irrigation structures; plant trees for windbreaks or to improve water quality; and mitigate risk through production diversification or resource conservation practices, including soil erosion control, integrated pest management, or transition to organic farming.


Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP)

CSP helps producers build on existing conservation efforts while strengthening their operations. Through this program NRCS staff can help identify natural resource problems in farming operations and provide technical and financial assistance to solve those problems, or even attain higher stewardship levels in an environmentally beneficial and cost-effective manner. This can include: looking at ways to address the amount of soil lost; mitigating the impact of excess water; reducing the contribution of agricultural operations to airborne soil particles and greenhouse gas emissions; improving the cover, food, and water available for domestic and wildlife species; or promoting energy efficiencies for on-farm activities.


Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP)

RCPP promotes coordination of NRCS conservation activities with partners that offer “value-added contributions” to address on-farm, watershed, and regional natural resource concerns. Through RCPP, NRCS seeks to co-invest with partners to implement projects that demonstrate innovative solutions to conservation challenges and provide measurable improvements and outcomes tied to the resource concerns they seek to address.

For more details on any of the programs, please contact one of the 14 USDA Service Centers conveniently located throughout Maine.

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