MARQUETTE - The ranking dates for the On-Farm Energy, Organic, Seasonal High Tunnel and Air Quality conservation initiatives have been announced. The initiatives offer technical and financial assistance through the Natural Resources Conservation Service's Environmental Quality Incentives Program.
NRCS accepts applications for financial assistance on a continuous basis throughout the year. There will be three ranking periods for the Organic, On-Farm Energy and Seasonal High Tunnel initiatives, all ending Feb. 3, March 30 and June 1. At the end of a ranking period, NRCS ranks all submitted proposals for funding consideration. NRCS will notify all applicants of the results of the rankings and begin developing contracts with selected applicants.
With the On-Farm Energy Initiative, NRCS and producers develop agricultural energy management plans or farm energy audits that assess energy consumption on an operation. NRCS then uses audit data to develop energy conservation recommendations.
With the Organic Initiative, NRCS helps certified organic growers and producers working to achieve organic certification install conservation practices for organic production. New for fiscal year 2012, applicants will be evaluated continuously during the ranking periods. Applications meeting or exceeding a threshold score may be approved for an EQIP contract before the end of the ranking period. Applications rating below the threshold score will be deferred to the next period. A new threshold score will be established at the beginning of each ranking period. This new scoring process allows organic producers to implement conservation practices in a more timely manner.
With the Seasonal High Tunnel Pilot Initiative, NRCS helps producers plan and implement high tunnels, steel-framed, polyethylene-covered structures that extend growing seasons in an environmentally safe manner. High tunnel benefits include better plant and soil quality, fewer nutrients and pesticides in the environment, and better air quality due to fewer vehicles being needed to transport crops.
For more information on how to apply for these initiatives, call the Marquette County Conservation District at 226-2461, ext. 102, or the Alger County Call the Alger Conservation District at 387-2222.