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NRCS Accepting Applications from farmers for key Minnesota conservation program

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.

Minnesota producers implement conservation practices through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), the agency’s largest Farm Bill conservation program. 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,” State Conservationist Don Baloun said. “This conservation investment helps improve environmental health and the economy of Minnesota’s communities.”

EQIP provides financial assistance for a variety of conservation activities, such as drainage water management, reduced tillage, field buffers, rotational grazing systems and much more. The deadline for the next signup period in Minnesota is December 20, 2013. Additional signup deadlines include: January 17, 2014; February 21, 2014 and March 21, 2014.

Additionally, NRCS offers special initiatives through EQIP, including:

  • On-Farm Energy Initiative: helps producers conserve energy on their operations.
  • Organic Initiative: helps producers to install conservation practices on certified organic operations or those working toward organic certification.

To participate in EQIP, an applicant must be an individual, entity or joint operation that meets EQIP eligibility criteria. Applicants can sign up at their local NRCS service center.