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Grant helps local farmers implement conservation plans
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The Natural Resources Conservation Service is inviting Stanislaus County farmers and ranchers to apply for the 2010 Environmental Quality Incentives Program and the Wildlife Habitat Improvement Program.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has $31.2 million available in California for the two programs. The applications for funding consideration in the 2010 fiscal year are due by Jan. 15. Applications for EQIP are accepted year round, but those received by Jan. 15 are given first priority.
EQIP provides technical, financial, and educational assistance to farmers and ranchers through a variety of agri-environmental programs and activities. Its primary objective is to optimize environmental benefits by helping farmers implement conservation plans.
WHIP helps private landowners and agriculture producers increase the diversity and habitat of wildlife and endangered species in California.
Two parts of EQIP have an extended sign-up period — the organic initiative and combustion engine emissions reduction initiative. These two facets of EQIP are only in their second year and producers may need extra time to enroll. The engine emissions reduction portion has $13.4 million available and the organic initiative has $2.4 million available. Sign-up is open until Jan. 29 for both special initiatives.
In fiscal year 2009, California NRCS worked with farmers and ranchers on $77 million of conservation contracts, setting a new record high in the state. The contracts covered a broad spectrum of natural resource enhancements including increasing irrigation efficiency; nutrient and manure management on dairies; grazing land management; riparian buffers and wildlife habitat; wetland protection; and forest management.
“All Farm Bill programs provide agriculture producers an incentive to improve the environment and the functionality of their operations, but EQIP is our flagship conservation program,” said NRCS State Conservationist Ed Burton. “Combined with technical assistance and conservation planning, EQIP has had a crucial impact on California’s farms and ranches.”
Stanislaus County agriculture producers received $5.8 million in 2009 for projects like increased irrigation efficiency, nutrient and manure management on dairies, and grazing land management, according to Diana Waller, the NRCS acting district conservationist.
“Combined with technical assistance and conservation planning, EQIP has had a valuable impact on Stanislaus County’s farms and ranches and on San Joaquin Valley’s air and water quality,” Waller said.
To view EQIP information and obtain an application, visit the California NRCS Web site at
To contact Sabra Stafford, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2002.