A portion of Michigan EQIP funding is targeted to farmers in the western Lake Erie basin. The funds will be used to assist farmers in implementing new conservation practices that will help improve water quality by reducing the amount of nutrients moving from farm land to surface water. Examples of practices eligible for financial assistance include cover crops, filter strips, nutrient management plans, residue and tillage management and conservation crop rotations. The eligibility includes Lenawee and Monroe and portions of Hillsdale, Jackson, Washtenaw and Wayne counties. A small portion of southeast Branch County is also eligible.
The On-Farm Energy Initiative is designed to assist producers 1) in identifying ways to conserve energy through the development of Agricultural Energy Management Plans, also known as on-farm energy audits; and 2) by providing financial and technical assistance to help the producer implement various conservation practices recommended in these on-farm energy audits.
Through the National Water Quality Initiative, NRCS will work with farmers and ranchers in small watersheds throughout the nation to improve water quality where this is a critical concern. In Michigan, NWQI assistance is available to producers in the Pigeon Creek Watershed in Calhoun County and the Hayworth, South Hayworth, and Doty Creek Watersheds in Clinton County.
Through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) National Organic Initiative, NRCS provides financial and technical assistance to help eligible producers plan and implement conservation practices to support the environmental sustainability of their organic operation or agricultural operation transitioning to organic production.
The 2018 Organic Initiative provides financial assistance to implement a broad set of conservation practices to assist organic producers in addressing resource concerns. Projects under this initiative may include, but are not limited to the following:
Developing a conservation plan
Establishing buffer zones
Planning and installing pollinator habitat
Improving soil quality and organic matter while minimizing erosion
Developing a grazing plan and supportive livestock practices
Improving irrigation efficiency
Enhancing cropping rotations and nutrient management
Financial assistance is limited to totals of a maximum of $20,000 per fiscal year AND no more than $80,000 over six years.
Applicants must meet all eligibility requirements associated with EQIP in addition to being a certified organic producer, a producer who is transitioning to become certified organic, or a producer who falls under the exemption category in the National Organic Program (NOP) regulation, as described below.
Certified organic producers must provide NRCS with a copy of their USDA NOP organic certificate or proof of good standing from a USDA-accredited certifying agent; certification must be maintained for the life of the contract.
Exempt producers who are selling less than $5,000 a year in organic agricultural products are exempt from NOP’s certification. Exempt organic producers are eligible for the EQIP Organic Initiative provided that they self-certify that they agree to develop and implement an Organic System Plan (OSP).
Transitioning to organic producers must self-certify that they agree to develop and implement an OSP.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service will provide close to $4 million in technical and financial assistance for interested farmers and ranchers to help improve the health of bees, which play an important role in crop production. The funding is a focused investment to improve pollinator health and will be targeted in five Midwestern states, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.
Agricultural producers in Wayne County may apply for financial assistance to purchase a seasonal high tunnel for vegetable and fruit production. High tunnels are metal framed structures covered with plastic that allow producers to extend their growing season. Financial assistance for seasonal high tunnels is available statewide but funding is dedicated to producers in Wayne and Genesee counties. For more information contact the Ann Arbor NRCS field office (seving Wayne County) at (734) 761-6722 extension 3. Flint and Genesee County producers should contact the Flint NRCS field office for more information at (810) 230-8766 extension 3.
NRCS has targeted funding for Michigan landowners to improve or establish habitat for the monarch butterfly. Eligible practices and financial assistance rates are listed on the fiscal year 2018 EQIP payment schedule.
Funding is available to farmers in designated watersheds to measure the effectiveness of a wide range of conservation practices. In order to measure the water quality outcome of a given conservation practice, NRCS works with partners like universities and non-governmental organizations to monitor the amount of nutrients and sediment in water leaving two similar fields after rain or irrigation. Experts will monitor one where a conservation practice, such as the use of cover crops in the off season, has been put in place, and a similar field where the conservation practice has not been applied. Conservation practices typically evaluated include cover crops, no-till farming, irrigation water management and practices that reduce and trap nutrients and sediment.
In the western Upper Peninsula, the project will provide financial assistance to private landowners for implementing designated conservation practices that will improve water quality and wildlife habitat, and reduce the risk of forest fires. The funding is available for landowners in Baraga, Gogebic, Houghton, Iron, Keweenaw, Marquette and Ontonagon counties.