Conservation Service application deadline dates announced

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BANGOR — The USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service has announced the application deadline dates for two of its conservation programs — the Environmental Quality Incentives Program and the Agricultural Management Assistance Program. The Fiscal Year 2016 application deadline for EQIP is Aug. 14, 2015. The Fiscal Year 2016 application deadline for AMA is extended to Sept. 15, 2015.

Agricultural producers and foresters are encouraged to sign up now for the EQIP, which provides financial and technical assistance to address varying natural resource priorities. The Fiscal Year 2016 funding consideration application deadline does not include the EQIP National Water Quality Initiative and Conservation Innovation Grants. Those deadlines are yet to be determined.

EQIP categories that are included in the Aug. 14 sign-up deadline, in addition to the “general” local pool categories (such as animal waste, cropland, forestry, seasonal high tunnels, pasture, and wildlife) are: Beginning Farmer; Socially Disadvantaged; Tribal Projects; Water Conservation/Irrigation; Aquatic Organism Passage Projects; Conservation Activity Plans; On-Farm Energy and Organic. Previously these categories had a different application deadline from the EQIP “general” category.

Agricultural producers are also encouraged to sign up now for the AMA program. AMA assists agricultural producers to manage risk and voluntarily address issues such as water management, water quality, and wildlife predation in orchards by incorporating conservation practices into their farming operations. For 2016, NRCS will also be offering an opportunity for funding seasonal high tunnels through AMA.

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There is a continuous, year-round sign-up for these two programs, but applications submitted by the deadlines mentioned above will be considered for funding in Fiscal Year 2016. Proposals submitted after that date will be held for Fiscal Year 2017 funding consideration.

For more information on EQIP and AMA, contact the local NRCS Service Center. Service Center locations and contact information can be found on the Maine NRCS website: http://www.me.nrcs.usda.gov, along with more information about the programs and services NRCS provides.

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