One thing Jane Hardisty has told farm groups about the 2014 Farm Bill is that conservation fared relatively well – there is money to make significant improvements. However, she notes that delivery of services and programs offered will change.
"They are consolidating programs so that it isn't so confusing," Hardisty says. "We still have tools to get done what needs to be done on the land, but some programs will be rolled into other programs."
For example, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service that Hardisy heads in Indiana announced that they are now accepting applications from people interested in establishing wildlife habitat. Only instead of being through the former Wildlife Habitat Incentives program, now it's through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, more commonly known as EQIP. The WHIP program has been folded into EQIP as one of the changes, Hardisty notes.
USDA's EQIP is a broad umbrella which also can be used to apply for many other concentration practices. Typically it's formulated as a long-range plan to improve various resources on your property over a period of time.
The deadline for all EQIP applications this spring is May 16. That deadline will also apply to those interested in applying for EQIP so they can attempt to qualify for incentives to improve wildlife habitat.
Start at your local USDA NRCS office for information. If your application arrives after the May 16 deadline, it won't be discarded. Instead it will be considered for future rounds of funding. However, it will not be considered for the immediate round of funding coming up now.
Hardisty says either establishing or improving wildlife habitat can make improvements to the environment beyond the borders of your property. It can help filter and cleanse water of pollutants, and may help prevent flooding and even improve soil profiles in some cases.
Inquire now if you're interested in this program for this year.
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