The East Stanislaus Resource Conservation District is hosting a Local Workgroup Meeting on Monday to get feedback from the community on how to best use federal funds through the Farm Bill's Environmental Quality Incentive Program.
California received $100 million of EQIP funds in 2014, which was divided between various statewide and locally led funding pools, and $25 million was made available in a Drought Response Initiative through USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service to assist drought-impacted farmers and ranchers. The remaining $75 million was split between various statewide and locally led programs — the most notable was the National Air Quality Initiative with $21 million which focused on reducing air quality emissions by updating older farm engines with new efficient models.
Of the $6.15 million of Environmental Quality Incentive Program funds that Stanislaus County received this year, approximately $1.9 million was obligated through local Animal Feeding Operation, Pasture, Rangeland, Cropland and Water Conservation programs.
The East Stanislaus District and the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service hope to get feedback from participants in the meeting to help the region secure funding for area producers to implement necessary conservation practices or explore potential partnerships to find funding through other sources. This workgroup will help steer the decision making process when applying for funding to ensure the projects are meeting the community’s greatest needs.
“These authorized programs directly impact Stanislaus County farmers and ranchers and indirectly benefit all county residents by helping to conserve our shared resources,” said Diana Waller, NRCS district conservationist with the Modesto Service Center.
Every year federal funds from the Farm Bill are designated to the Environmental Quality Incentive Program to provide technical and financial assistance to agricultural producers in order to address natural resource concerns and deliver environmental benefits for addressing natural resource concerns and delivering environmental benefits such as improved water and air quality, conserved ground and surface water, reduced soil erosion and sedimentation or improved or created wildlife habitat.
Many local farmers and ranchers received assistance through the Drought Response Initiative to do water conservation practices including the installation of micro-irrigation systems. Many farmers faced reduced allocation of water and began looking for efficient ways to make it through the end of the irrigation season. NRCS worked with applicants through the Drought Response Initiative to help plan the installation of micro-irrigation systems throughout the county. NRCS will continue to work with those farmers to implement increased irrigation water management techniques throughout the coming year to derive the maximum water savings from the investment.
The Conservation Workgroup Meeting will be held at 1:30 p.m. Monday at the Stanislaus County Agriculture Center, H/I Conference Room, 3800 Cornucopia Way, Modesto. For more information, contact Trina Walley at 491-9320 ext. 139.