Financial Assistance Available for Agriculture Producers
Apply by July 18, 2014 for Gulf of Mexico Initiative
Gainesville, FL. May 28, 2014 – Farmers and ranchers in the Escambia River or Middle Suwannee River Area watersheds may be eligible for financial assistance to reduce soil erosion, improve water quality and develop wildlife habitat on cropland, pastureland and forestland. The deadline is July 18 to sign up for USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Gulf of Mexico Initiative.
In Florida, the initiative will make available more than $1.4 million in Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) financial assistance funds in those two priority watersheds during fiscal year 2014.
“This effort to improve the health of the Gulf Coast region will benefit Florida citizens by producing cleaner water, more abundant wildlife and healthier fisheries,” said Russell Morgan, Florida state conservationist.
The priority watersheds include the Middle Suwannee River area in parts of Suwannee and Lafayette counties and the Escambia River in parts of Escambia and Santa Rosa counties. Landowners can view maps to see if their property lies within one of the announced watersheds.
· Installing grade-control structures to stabilize eroding gullies
· Implementing precision agriculture to reduce chemical application overlap and protect sensitive environmental areas
· Adopting residue and tillage management, cover crops and conservation crop rotations to reduce sheet and rill erosion and improve soil organic matter, which results in cleaner runoff and improved water quality
· Planting grass and trees to stabilize eroding areas
· Installing cross-fences and watering facilities to facilitate grazing distribution
· Controlling cattle access to streams to improve water quality and stream bank stability
· Planting and managing native plant species to improve wildlife habitat and assist with restoration of a multitude of declining species
· Promoting energy conservation by eliminating the need for annual mechanical removal of sediment from split ditches
· Implementing grazing management
· Installing heavy-use area protection pads
The initiative helps agricultural producers in Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas improve water quality and ensure sustainable production of food and fiber. It was developed by NRCS and conservation partners in response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and President Obama's call to restore the waters, shores and wildlife populations along the Gulf Coast. This effort incorporates what the public and communities have requested through their input into the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force Strategy to restore the Gulf Coast.
For more information about signing up for the initiative, contact your local NRCS office.