USDA NRCS Announces Sign-Up for Three Conservation Programs

Sign-up before October 19 for FY 2013 financial assistance.

Applications for three extensive conservation programs are being accepted until October 19, 2012 for funding consideration in FY2013. Delaware producers are encouraged to sign up for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP) or Agricultural Management Assistance (AMA) program, which provide financial and technical assistance to address varying conservation priorities.

Although the first application cut-off date is October 19, producers and forest landowners can apply anytime for EQIP, WHIP or AMA at their local USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) office. However, those with applications in before October 19 will have a higher chance of application approval as funding is limited.

The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) places a priority on water quality, water conservation and promotes forest management practices and energy conservation. It also provides funding for conservation practices that address air quality concerns from agricultural operations using innovative technologies. Last year, Delaware awarded 241 EQIP contracts totaling $5 million.

The Agricultural Management Assistance Program (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. Conservation practices eligible for funding include, but are not limited to, nutrient management, cover crops, poultry windbreaks, proper manure storage, composters and conservation cover.

The Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP) offers technical and financial assistance to private landowners to develop and improve high quality habitat that supports wildlife populations of significance. Only privately-owned agricultural land and forest land are eligible for WHIP. Eligible practices for funding consideration include conservation cover, windbreaks, filter strips, riparian forest buffers, wetlands restoration and more.

All interested landowners must have an active conservation plan so that their program applications can be considered when funding is made available. A conservation plan is a voluntary technical tool that helps landowners identify conservation measures that provide the greatest conservation benefits on the land.

Practices under AMA, WHIP, and EQIP are offered through a continuous signup, but NRCS periodically makes funding selections as program dollars allow.

To apply for financial assistance, contact your local USDA Service Center. In Sussex County, call 302-856-3990, ext 3; in Kent County, call 302-741-2600, ext. 3; and in New Castle County, call 302-832-3100, ext. 3. Additional information on NRCS programs and services is available on the Delaware NRCS Web site at

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