NRCS accepting applications from Mississippi farmers and ranchers for programs

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is accepting applications to help producers improve water and air quality, build healthier soil, improve grazing and forest lands, conserve energy, enhance organic operations, and achieve other environmental benefits.

NRCS has directed more millions of dollars in financial assistance for fiscal 2014 to help Mississippi producers implement conservation practices through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Interested producers should visit their local NRCS service center for information on EQIP sign-up periods.

“The Environmental Quality Incentives Program offers farmers, ranchers and forestland managers a variety of options to conserve natural resources, while boosting production on their lands,” State Conservationist, Kurt Readus said. “This conservation investment helps improve environmental health and the economy of Mississippi rural communities.”

EQIP provides financial assistance for a variety of conservation activities, such as irrigation water management, reduced tillage, field buffers, rotational grazing systems and much more. NRCS accepts applications on a continuous basis; however dates are set for ranking applications. The deadline for accepting applications to be considered in the next ranking period in Mississippi has been extended until November 15, 2013. Applications for the second and third ranking periods are due by January 17, 2014 and April 18, 2014, respectively.

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 the growing season into the cold months, increase productivity, keep plants at a steady temperature and conserve water and energy.

Organic Initiative: helps producers to install conservation practices on certified organic operations or those working toward organic certification.