The Natural Resources Conservation Service is offering conservation assistance to Idaho agricultural producers and landowners through three special initiatives: the On-Farm Energy Initiative, Organic Initiative and Seasonal High Tunnel Initiative. NRCS accepts applications for assistance on a continuous basis throughout the year. There will be three ranking periods for these special initiatives ending on February 3, March 30 and June 1, 2012.
“These initiatives provide a different approach to conserving resources on Idaho’s agricultural lands,” said Jeff Burwell, NRCS State Conservationist. “By offering initiatives that respond to changing conditions in agricultural production NRCS can be more effective in helping producers maintain sustainable operations.”
Brief overviews of the initiatives are listed below:
On-Farm Energy Initiative: NRCS and producers develop Agricultural Energy Management Plans (AgEMP) or farm energy audits that assess energy consumption. NRCS then uses audit data to develop energy conservation recommendations. The audits assess power usage for equipment, farming processes, and farm headquarters including efficiencies in livestock buildings, grain handling operations, and similar facilities that support the farm operation.
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, the application evaluation process has been changed to support implementation of conservation practices in a timelier manner.
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 benefit plant and soil quality and reduce nutrient and pesticide use. This initiative is available statewide and is not restricted to organic producers as it was last year.
For more specific information on these initiatives or to learn more about eligibility requirements, stop by your local USDA service center or visit NRCS online at http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/.