January 4, 2002

USDA Funds Available For Agriculture Conservation Projects

Escondido — Farmers and ranchers interested in installing conservation practices are invited to apply for funds from the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), the main conservation program of the federal Farm Bill.

USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is administering the program and accepting applications. Agricultural operators can request up to $50,000 to install a project. Applications are due in the San Diego County NRCS office by March 8, 2002. NRCS, with concurrence of USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA), has not allocated EQIP funding for San Diego County this year however we expect to receive over $100,000.

The financial assistance is available to agricultural land care providers under EQIP to assist in voluntarily installing natural resource enhancements. The program has broad applicability for agricultural improvements of soil, water, air and related natural resources. Local work groups and government agencies --define the resource priorities for their areas.

"This conservation program has proven very popular in San Diego County," says Jason Jackson, District Conservationist for NRCS. "There is abundant interest-both among farmers and ranchers-to practice conservation on our agricultural lands."

Over the last four years farmers and ranchers were awarded nearly $500,000 to install conservation practices on San Diego County farms. Conservation practices have included those to decrease erosion, reduce the amount of irrigation water sued and prevent runoff.

To obtain the Application Package, with information and instructions for applying for funding, contact the NRCS/Resource Conservation District offices at (760) 745-2061 in Escondido and (760) 728-1332 in Fallbrook.

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