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Start Process of Applying for EQIP Funds Now

START PROCESS OF APPLYING FOR EQIP FUNDS NOW

NEARLY $38 MILLION IN NRCS Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) funds have been authorized in the 2008 Farm Bill to help California growers implement conservation practices related to reducing erosion, improving water use efficiency, and protecting air and water quality.

Chris Hartley, district conservationist with the USDA’s NRCS office in Stanislaus County, told members of the Almond Board Environmental Committee that the NRCS has expanded opportunities under the new Farm Bill to provide growers with financial and technical assistance. One of the new programs will provide cost-share to retrofit or replace diesel motors for farm equipment, such as tractors and harvesters, as well as for stationary motors.

Among several priorities under EQIP, NRCS is cost-sharing grower efforts to implement integrated pest management practices or to acquire “smart” sprayers that can reduce impacts of pest management on air and water quality. NRCS is working with California Department of Pesticide Regulation to share a newly developed VOC calculator that can help growers determine VOC emissions for a particular pesticide application.

Growers should apply early for EQIP funds by contacting a local NRCS office to determine their eligibility and put together a conservation plan for their operation. The Almond Board’s Gabriele Ludwig said growers who work with NRCS on an overall conservation plan that evaluates resources and growing practices in their orchard may fare better in the competitive process for limited EQIP funds.

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