HONOLULU, HAWAII — Applications are being accepted from farmers and ranchers for three different Farm Bill Programs that are administered by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). The three programs include Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), the Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP), and Agriculture Management Assistance (AMA). Interested farmers and ranchers have until December 11, 2009 to submit their applications to be considered for this ranking period.

“We’re focusing our conservation efforts on treating identified priority natural resource concerns on lands being used to produce agricultural products,” says Lawrence Yamamoto, Director of the Pacific Islands Area for the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

Financial assistance is available through EQIP to agricultural producers who are willing to implement conservation measures which treat the targeted natural resource concerns on their land (including forestry, organic farming, and energy conservation). WHIP provides technical and financial assistance to improve fish and wildlife habitat. Previously, AMA was available in 15 states and Hawaii was just added as a qualifying state. This program addresses water management, erosion control, and integrated pest management.

Projects that install conservation measures on agricultural lands to address the following proposed identified priority natural resource concerns are being considered: animal waste, sedimentation, noxious weeds, insufficient water supply for livestock or irrigation, pesticide or nutrient contamination of ground or surface waters, at-risk species habitat, and invasive species. For a full description of the program eligibility, please visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs.

Applications are accepted year-round for these three programs, however, this ranking cycle ends on December 11, 2009. Previous applications that were not selected/funded in the last ranking cycle will be included for the December 11th deadline.

NRCS will provide technical assistance to help agricultural producers design, plan, and implement their conservation measures. Interested farmers and ranchers are asked to call their local NRCS Field Office for more information. To find the office nearest you, visit www.pia.nrcs.usda.gov. USDA is an equal opportunity employer and provider.

‘Jolene Lau is the Public Affairs Specialist with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service in Honolulu’

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