Delaware producers interested in improving natural resources have until October 1 to sign up for three popular conservation programs from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). NRCS is offering financial and technical assistance to eligible producers through the voluntary Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), Agricultural Management Assistance Program (AMA), and Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP). After the first batch date of October 1, monthly batch dates will be added as necessary as funding becomes available.
“As more Delaware producers adopt effective conservation practices, we are able to make great progress to improve our water quality, maintain high quality soils, and improve wildlife habitat,” said Russell Morgan, NRCS State Conservationist. Producers are encouraged to apply early to ensure they meet current NRCS eligibility requirements.
Delaware farmers may apply for EQIP to receive financial and technical assistance to plan, design, and install structural conservation practices and to plan and implement management practices on eligible agricultural land. Producers may sign up for available practices including agricultural waste management, nutrient management, irrigation water management, soil erosion control, forest management, poultry house windbreaks, and more.
AMA provides payments to agricultural producers to voluntarily address issues such as water quality, water management, and erosion control by incorporating conservation practices into their farming operations. Some conservation practices eligible for funding include nutrient management, cover crops, high tunnel houses, and conservation cover. Eligible land includes cropland, grassland, pastureland, non-industrial forestland, and other private land that produces crops or livestock.
WHIP offers technical and financial assistance to private landowners to develop, improve, and protect high quality habitat that supports wildlife populations. Land eligible for WHIP includes private agricultural land or non-industrial private forestland. Practices eligible for WHIP funding include filter strips, riparian forest buffers, wetlands restoration (including phragmites spraying), and more. WHIP provides both technical assistance and financial assistance up to 75 percent.
Applications for the above conservation programs are accepted year round. For additional information on EQIP, AMA, or WHIP, visit www.de.nrcs.usda.gov or contact the local USDA Service Center nearest you. In Sussex, call 302-856-3990 ext. 3; in Kent, call 302-741-2600 ext. 3; in New Castle, call 302-832-3100 ext. 3.