INDIANAPOLIS -- Jane Hardisty, State Conservationist with USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) recently announced three initiatives being offered in Indiana through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program.
They include On-Farm Energy, Organic, and Seasonal High Tunnels.
NRCS can assist farmers with evaluation their needs and planning to install these practices and with installation costs.
Farmers can apply for assistances at any time, but applications for the three initiatives will be ranked three times during the year.
"Giving farmers more time to choose the option that is right for their operations and making it easier to apply for the practices they need to benefit the natural resources on their operations is behind the decision to move to multiple ranking dates for each initiative," Hardisty said.
While NRCS accepts applications for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) on a continuous basis throughout the year, the three ranking periods for the Organic, On-Farm Energy and Seasonal High Tunnel initiatives will all end Feb. 3, March 30 and June 1, 2012.
At the end of a ranking period, NRCS ranks all submitted proposals for funding consideration using national, state and local ranking criteria.
NRCS then notifies all applicants of the results of the rankings and begins developing contracts with selected applicants.
According to Teresah Caire, Assistant State Conservationist for Farm Bill Programs, more than $16 million in EQIP funds was awarded to Indiana Producers in 2011.
"We encourage our producers to take advantage of the conservation opportunities being made available to them through these EQIP Initiatives," Caire said.
Through the three initiatives, the opportunities could include longer growing seasons, assessing on-farm energy savings, becoming organic certified, conserving natural resources while improving operations and providing a greater supply of locally grown food.
Farmers interested in learning more about the initiatives should contact their NRCS district conservationist at a local USDA Service Center. Doris Scully is the Clay County District Conservationist, and she may be reached at 448-1108 Ext. 3, or at the office, located at 955 W. Craig Ave., Brazil.