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News Release

PIA Farmers Encouraged to Apply for Conservation Assistance

For Immediate Release
November 13, 2020

Contact: Chad Cherefko, Assistant Director for Programs
Phone: (808) 600-2959
Email: Chad.Cherefko@usda.gov

 

Pacific Island Area agricultural producers and landowners are encouraged to apply for technical and financial assistance to improve and enhance natural resources on their farm and forest land. Funding is available through the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP),Agricultural Management Assistance (AMA) Program, Agricultural Land Easements (ALE), Wetland Reserve Easements (WRE), and Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) administered by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

The application cutoff date for fiscal year 2021 is December 15, 2020 for AMA, EQIP, and one ongoing RCPP-EQIP project. The signup date for the regular CSP program has been tentatively set for January 15, 2021, but producers interested in that program should consider filing an application now

Forest landowners or land managers can apply for RCPP-EQIP funding for land participating in a Watershed Partnership in Hawaii, in cooperation with the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Forestry’s Restore Native Forest Ecosystems for Watershed Protection and At-Risk Species Habitat Benefits project.

AMA applications are being accepted from producers in Hawaii. AMA will fund high tunnels and a limited suite of supporting practices.

EQIP assistance is available to help farmers and landowners plan and implement conservation practices to improve water quality, build healthier soil, improve grazing and forest lands, conserve energy, enhance organic operations, establish or improve wildlife habitat and achieve other environmental benefits on cropland and pasture, forestland, and associated agricultural land including farmsteads. Popular practices include those that support soil health improvement, such as cover crops and no till; pasture improvement, such as prescribed grazing and watering systems; manure handling and storage systems, such as dry litter and deep litter piggeries; forest improvement, such as invasive species control practices and forest stand improvement; and habitat improvement, such as early successional habitat management.

Additionally, NRCS offers special initiatives through EQIP, including:

  • On-Farm Energy Initiative: helps producers conserve energy on their operations.
  • Seasonal High Tunnel Initiative: helps producers install high tunnels designed to extend their growing season, increase productivity, reduce use of pesticides, and conserve water and energy.
  • Organic Initiative: helps producers install conservation practices on certified organic operations or those working toward organic certification.

Every year NRCS targets 5 percent of EQIP funding for Beginning Farmers and Ranchers (BFR) and another 5 percent to Socially Disadvantaged (SD) Farmers and Ranchers under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).  Beginning Farmers and Ranchers and Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers are considered Historically Underserved Clients who may have limited access to capital, land and farming resources and traditionally low participation in USDA programs. 

ALE provides funding to cooperating entities to preserve agricultural land with a focus on preserving prime and statewide important soils. WRE provides funding to private landowners to preserve land for wetland wildlife habitat. WRE includes a restoration component where the hydric soils are taken out of production and returned to their natural state as a functioning wetland.

NRCS conservationists will work with producers to develop a conservation plan on their land to identify concerns and opportunities, help determine objectives, and recommend solutions. “Our high-quality, comprehensive conservation plans can provide farmers with step-by-step recommendations they can use to improve their water quality, soil health and more -- all while reducing input costs,” said Travis Thomason, NRCS Pacific Islands Area Director.

NRCS accepts applications year-round but makes funding selections at application cut-off deadlines. Pacific Islands Area producers with applications in by December 15th will have a higher chance of application approval in 2021, as funding is limited. Applications received after that date will be accepted and considered for funding in future ranking review cycles.

Interested producers should visit their local NRCS service center (found at http://offices.usda.gov) for sign-up information.

To participate in USDA conservation programs, applicants should be farmers or farm or forest landowners and must meet eligibility criteria. To take advantage of NRCS technical assistance and expertise or federally funded conservation on your farm or land, please contact your local USDA NRCS Field Office (found at http://offices.usda.gov, and visit our website at www.pia.nrcs.usda.gov for program information.

 

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USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender.

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