NRCS is offering additional funding through EQIP to target specific resource concerns in Montana in 2019: on-farm energy, honey bee pollinators, high tunnel systems, Sage Grouse Initiative invasive conifer removal and cropland seeding, Capital 360 Forestry Project, and the National Water Quality Initiative.
While NRCS accepts EQIP applications on a continuous basis, NRCS has set a deadline of Oct. 19, 2018, to apply for 2019 initiatives funding. Below is an overview of each initiative:
National On-Farm Energy Initiative: This initiative has two components. In the first component, agricultural producers work with an NRCS-approved Technical Service Provider to develop Agricultural Energy Management Plans or farm energy audits that assess energy consumption on an operation. In the second component, NRCS may also provide assistance to implement various recommended measures identified in the energy audit through the use of conservation practice standards offered through this initiative.
Honey Bee Pollinators: NRCS will work with agricultural producers to combat future declines by helping them to implement conservation practices that provide forage for honey bees while enhancing habitat for other pollinators and wildlife.
High Tunnel Systems: NRCS helps producers implement high tunnels that extend growing seasons for high value crops in an environmentally safe manner. High tunnel benefits include better plant and soil quality and fewer nutrients and pesticides in the environment.
Sage Grouse Initiative Invasive Conifer Removal: Conifer encroachment into sagebrush rangelands affects the productivity of grazing lands and can be detrimental for sage-grouse and other species that depend on sagebush-steppe habitat. The most cost-effective approach for conifer treatment is to target early encroachment stands, where small trees can be completely removed and the existing sagebrush community sustained. By targeting early stages of encroachment in intact sagebrush landscapes, habitat for wildlife can be improved.
Sage Grouse Initiative Cropland Seeding: Loss and fragmentation of sage-grouse habitat is the primary threat to sage-grouse. Through this initiative, landowners can work with NRCS to seed cropland in sage-grouse habitat back to perennial species to improve the connectivity for not only sage-grouse, but the many other species that depend on large, intact landscapes.
Capital 360 Forestry Project: The goal of the Capital 360 partnership project is to improve forest health by integrating resource management across all administrative boundaries. Through this localized initiative, fuels reduction treatment projects will be strategically placed across Broadwater, Jefferson, Lewis and Clark, and Powell counties.
National Water Quality Initiative: This initiative helps producers implement conservation systems to reduce nitrogen, phosphorous, sediment and pathogen contributions from agricultural land in the Camp and Godfrey Creeks (Lower Gallatin) Watershed.
EQIP offers financial and technical assistance to eligible participants to install or implement structural and management practices on eligible agricultural land. Conservation practices must be implemented to NRCS standards and specifications. In Montana, socially disadvantaged, limited resource, and beginning farmers and ranchers will receive a higher payment rate for eligible conservation practices applied.
For more information about EQIP, or other programs offered by NRCS, please contact your local USDA Service Center or visitwww.mt.nrcs.usda.gov.