Delaware agricultural producers are encouraged to apply for technical and financial assistance to improve the health and productivity of their agricultural land.
Assistance is available through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program and Agricultural Management Assistance program administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service. The first application cutoff date for fiscal year 2020 is Friday, Feb. 21, for both programs.
Program assistance is available to help farmers plan and implement conservation practices to improve soil, water, plant, animal, air and related resources on agricultural land and non-industrial private forest land. Popular practices include waste storage structures, heavy-use area pads, energy, cover crops, irrigation water management, poultry windbreaks and more.
“Our farmers are committed to being the best stewards of the land,” said Kasey Taylor, NRCS state conservationist. “Our programs are simply another resource to help them achieve their conservation goals.”
NRCS conservationists will work with producers to develop a conservation plan on their land to identify concerns and opportunities, help determine objectives and recommend solutions.
Last year, Delaware approved a combined 184 EQIP and AMA contracts covering 39,600 acres for a total of $7.3 million.
NRCS accepts applications year-round but makes funding selections at application cut-off deadlines. Delaware producers with applications in before Feb. 21 will have a higher chance of application approval as funding is limited. Additional application cutoff dates are scheduled for the third Friday of each month until May 15.
To be eligible for program assistance, producers must have an eligible resource concern on their agricultural operation at the time of application. Historically underserved producers may request advance payments for EQIP practices, which provides the producer with a payment of at least 50 percent prior to implementation.
To apply for financial assistance, contact the USDA Service Center in Sussex County at 302-856-3990, Ext. 3 or go to www.de.nrcs.usda.gov.