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Extension Agent: Organization accepts applications for conservation funding

By By Peter J. McGuill
Nov. 26, 2013 at 5:26 a.m.

Peter McGuill

The United State Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service is accepting applications for funding opportunities with the Environmental Quality Incentives Program and Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program.

The service will begin ranking and obligating contracts after Jan. 17. All agriculture producers interested in submitting a contract application for 2014 should do so before this ranking deadline.

The Environmental Quality Incentives Program and Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program are continuous sign-up programs that allow landowners or operators to apply for financial and technical assistance for the application of specific conservation practices.

Contracts are offered periodically depending on budgetary allocations. Applications made after the deadline will be considered in the next funding cycle. Higher priority will be given to those applications that address national, state and local priorities and provide higher cost efficiency.

The Environmental Quality Incentives Program offers technical and financial help to install or implement structural, vegetative and management practices that can benefit the soil, water, air, plants, livestock and wildlife.

The Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program applications must address traditional natural resource issues, such as water quantity, water quality, grazing lands, forest health, soil management, emerging natural resource issues and climate change.

Each county in the state is funded yearly to assist producers financially with these land management practices.

Last year, the service in Texas funded more than 4,500 Environmental Quality Incentives Program contracts with $91 million to accomplish conservation practices such as irrigation efficiency, minimum tillage, brush management and more on 3.6 million acres across the entire state.

Additionally, the service funded 200 Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program contracts with $7.1 million to improve wildlife habitat on more than 380,000 acres in Texas.

In addition to helping our environment, Farm Bill conservation program funds support rural communities.

In Texas, it is estimated that each dollar of service and private matching expenditures on service conservation programs generates an additional $2.54 in sales of goods and services locally.

Peter J. McGuill is the Victoria County extension agent - ag and natural resources. Contact him at 361-575-4581 or pjmcguill@ag.tamu.edu.

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