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High Tunnel System Initiative

High Tunnel HeaderA high tunnel or "hoop house" is a polyethylene covered structure with no electrical, heating, and/or mechanical ventilation systems that is used to cover crops to extend the growing season in an environmentally safe manner.

Purpose

The purpose of the “High Tunnel System” conservation practice is to assist producers to extend the growing season for high-value crops in an environmentally safe manner.  The practice has the potential to assist producers to address resource concerns by improving plant quality, improving soil quality, and reducing nutrient and pesticide transport.

Eligibility

Applicant Eligibility: The High Tunnel System Initiative is open to individuals, businesses, nonprofits, Indian Tribes, legal entities, or joint operations who are either currently engaged in crop production OR who have a demonstrated interest in crop production. Examples of eligible groups include individual farmers, farm entities, or grower groups which may consist of community garden organizations, non-profits, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) operations,  and more. In addition, organic producers who grow agricultural commodities on eligible land and have natural resource concerns which may be addressed by a high tunnel may participate in EQIP.

Historically Underserved participants may also receive higher payment rates in addition to being considered in high priority funding pools.

Land Eligibility: The grower or grower group must already be engaged in production (for example, an established community garden or an established farm), or has demonstrated an interest in production.

Practice Requirements

The crops grown within the high tunnel must be planted directly into the soil covered by the seasonal high tunnel. The use of pots, growing racks or hydroponics is not eligible.

To be eligible for NRCS financial assistance, seasonal high tunnels must be purchased as a kit with warranties for wind and snow damage and installation instructions from a manufacturer. High tunnels must be planned, designed and constructed in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations. Expected life span of the high tunnel is a minimum of 4 years.

Payments

In Oregon the high tunnel practice has a practice payment cap of $6,500 for general EQIP applicants and $7,725 for applicants that qualify as Limited Resource Producers, Beginning Farmers or Ranchers, Veterans, or Historically Underserved (see applicant eligibility). Applicants can apply for one or multiple seasonal high tunnels as long as the sum total does not exceed the practice payment cap. 

How to Apply

Applications for the High Tunnel Initiative can be obtained at your local NRCS office. NRCS can also assist the applicant by developing a conservation plan that includes conservation activities and practices that address resource problems while improving farming operation on their land.

Contact Your Local Service Center

Ranking Criteria

EQIP applications are evaluated and then prioritized for funding. Applications that best address natural resources as described in the ranking criteria are prioritized for funding.

Screening Question:  In the last calendar year, in the site proposed for the new high tunnel, did you grow and sell produce that would benefit from a high tunnel system? Examples of such produce include vegetables, strawberries, flowers and herbs.  Yes = high priorityNo =  medium priority

For More Information


Contacts

Mary Beth Smith
NRCS Farm Bill Specialist
1201 NE Lloyd Blvd, Suite 900
Portland, Oregon  97232
Phone:  (503) 414-3283
Email: mary.beth.smith@or.usda.gov

Your Local USDA Service Center