Acting State Conservationist Roger Kult has announced several special, targeted Farm Bill Initiatives with 5.5 million dollars available for Indiana farmers that targets drought recovery, wildlife habitat, and specific water quality resource concerns. These projects include the Drought Recovery Initiative, Wildlife Habitat Initiative, Agriculture Water Enhancement Program, Western Lake Erie Basin Initiative, and Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative.
All of the announced opportunities are funded through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), and provide farmers financial assistance to implement conservation practices on their land to address specific resource concerns.
“These targeted projects allow us to address specific natural resource concerns, and provide a less competitive option for producers to work in these areas. Applicants don’t have to compete with all of the statewide EQIP applications for these projects, just those applying for each specific Initiative,” said Kult.
Applications submitted by March 15, 2013 will be considered for this year’s funding.
The Drought Recovery Initiative ($3.8 million) offers assistance to producers in those counties most affected by the drought through practices that build soil health, leading to resiliency. Specific conservation practices that build soil health improve water infiltration through the soil profile and improve soil moisture retention, which provides water to plants during future dry periods are priority. Counties designated as D3 and D4 (according to August 7th 2012 Drought Monitor data) are eligible for the Drought Initiative. At least 50% of the offered land in an operation must be within one of the eligible counties in order to be considered for funding.
The Wildlife Habitat Initiative ($320,000) targets a core set of wildlife habitat conservation practices. Indiana NRCS is not able to offer any funds through the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP) this year, and this targeted EQIP Initiative will allow an emphasis on wildlife habitat statewide.
The Agriculture Water Enhancement Program ($883,000) funds two projects in Indiana that focus on improving water quality. One project is in LaPorte County, and the other is in the counties that drain to Southeast Lake Michigan, including portions of St. Joseph, Elkhart, Lagrange, Steuben, Kosciusko, Noble and DeKalb Counties. These two projects were selected through a competitive application process.
The Western Lake Erie Basin Initiative ($280,000) focuses on reducing phosphorus loading to Lake Erie, and is focused on portions of Steuben, Noble, DeKalb, Allen, Wells, and Adams Counties.
The Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative ($258,000) funds two projects in Indiana. The first is a partnership in Sullivan, Greene and Knox counties focused on irrigation improvement. The second is a partnership with the Department of Natural Resources to improve forest management activities in the Hoosier National Forest area, including Brown, Crawford, Dubois, Jackson, Lawrence, Martin, Monroe, and Perry Counties.
For more information on any of these Initiatives, please contact your local NRCS District Conservationist. To locate the office in your area, please visit https://www.in.nrcs.usda.gov/contact/directory/dclist.html . Information on the EQIP program is also available on the Indiana NRCS webpage at https://www.in.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/eqip.html.
Source: Indiana NRCS