Wednesday, August 22, 2012

NRCS Accepting Applications For 2013 Farm Conservation Programs

The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service is accepting applications for Fiscal Year 2013 financial assistance to help implement conservation practices that improve natural resources on farms, forestland, and wetland areas throughout Pennsylvania.
The deadline to submit applications October 19. Applications received after that date will be accepted and considered for funding if funds are available after first cycle applications are processed.
While the 2012 Farm Bill has not yet been approved, and it is not known if a short-term continuation of the 2008 Farm Bill will be approved, NRCS is making contingency plans to continue to work with farmers and landowners who want to implement conservation practices.
Based on proposed legislation, it appears that the same types of conservation practices that are currently available for assistance will continue to be available. The name of the program that provides funding is subject to change depending on legislation.
Practices that reduce soil erosion and nutrient loss on cropland; help farmers manage manure and nutrients associated with livestock production; help forest land owners better manage woodlands; improve wildlife habitat, or improve grazing systems are anticipated to continue to be eligible for funding assistance. Individual practices that have been historically popular include: waste storage facilities, grass waterways, no-till, cover crops, streamside buffers, prescribed grazing, feed management, nutrient management, and forest stand improvement.
Applicants can request funding through the same programs that have been available through the current 2008 Farm Bill, and if changes are made as a result of the 2012 Farm Bill, NRCS will transfer those applications to the appropriate program for consideration.
Applicants do need to specify what they are requesting assistance for at the time they are filing their application.
Special Initiatives
Some special initiatives expected to again be available for 2013 include habitat improvement for the Eastern Bog Turtle, the Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake and for the Golden-Winged Warbler; farmstead energy audits, seasonal high tunnels, and installation of conservation practices to benefit organic farming operations or those transitioning to organic.
Incentive Payments
The Conservation Stewardship Program offers incentive payments for producers and forestland owners who are practicing good conservation measures and are interested in improving and adding practices to enhance their conservation efforts.
The application deadline for the CSP ranking is also October 19th.
To take advantage of our technical assistance and expertise or federally funded conservation on your farm or land, please contact your local USDA NRCS Field Office, or visit the NRCS-PA website for applications and program information.

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