The Star Democrat
NRCS sets Jan. 7 deadline for conservation program applications
ANNAPOLIS — The U.S. Department of Agriculture is accepting applications from agricultural producers and forest landowners from Maryland for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program and Agricultural Management Assistance program funding for fiscal year 2022.
While USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service accepts EQIP and AMA applications year-round, Maryland producers and landowners should apply by Jan. 7, 2022, to be considered for funding in the current cycle. Applications received after the ranking date will automatically be considered during the next funding cycle. Funding is provided through a competitive process.
EQIP and AMA offer financial and technical assistance to producers for conservation practices to help them make improvements, including enhancing water and air quality, conserving ground and surface water, reducing soil erosion and sedimentation, or enhancing wildlife habitat.
EQIP is the primary program available to Maryland farmers and landowners for basic farm and forestland conservation work, with payments for over 100 conservation practices such as heavy use area protection, pasture management, grassed waterways, pest management, and forest stand improvement. Last year, Maryland producers were offered more than $10 million in funds for EQIP practices. AMA offers high tunnels and water management systems.
Historically underserved producers are eligible for advance payments for all EQIP practices. This option provides historically underserved producers with funding up-front, with funding of not less than 50 percent of the conservation practice payment rate to purchase materials or services associated with practice implementation. Historically underserved producers include producers who are beginning, socially disadvantaged, veteran, or limited resource.
The Jan. 7 application deadline also includes EQIP initiatives such as Organic, the National Water Quality Initiative, and Historically Underserved. All offer technical and financial assistance through EQIP.
For more information about conservation planning and programs, or to find your local USDA service center, visit www.md.nrcs.usda.gov.