EQIP funding available for livestock farmers

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 26, 2003

Time is running out for livestock farmers to apply for financial assistance for farm improvement projects funded through the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

In cooperation with the Lawrence Soil and Water Conservation District, NRCS' Environmental Quality Incentive Program is designed to help livestock farmers solve resource problems on their land, Ralph Crawford, district conservationist, said.

"This program can be a tremendous help for small or beginning producers," he said. "With the income small on many of these farms, it is hard to make these improvements. The purpose is to maintain the land's productivity and practice conservation methods."

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Applications will be accepted until Friday and are available at the Soil and Water office at 5459 State Route 217 or the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Gallia County.

The program focuses on alleviating four primary environmental concerns that affect farmers - water quality, soil quality, habitat recovery and air quality.

Winter feeding management, developing water systems into pastures and pasture management and rotational grazing will be given top priority.

Projects could include developing a spring or water system to a dry pasture or helping construct an access road to make winter feeding easier, he said.

Many of the programs, especially the pasture management, are "better for the land, better for the animals and better for profit," he said.

Approximately $7.77 million was distributed for conservation efforts across the state, but only $50,000 is available in Lawrence County, he said.

The actual amount of individual assistance varies according to the problems. Up to 50 percent of the cost could be shared for all practices, except for construction of waste storage structures, which can be eligible for up to 75 percent.

Farm management projects are eligible up to 100 percent financing. Limited resource and beginning farmers will be given additional consideration.

Contracts for all projects span a minimum of two years and a maximum of five.

Last year, more than 40 farmers from Lawrence and Gallia counties signed up. More than half were approved and the other half will be reranked to apply again this year, Crawford said.

For more information, contact Crawford at (740) 867-4737.