In January of this year, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the expansion of the Department’s StrikeForce for Rural Growth and Opportunity Initiative into Ohio. As part of the StrikeForce Federal partnership, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is now offering the Pasture Improvement Project to eligible farmers in eight of the StrikeForce counties, including Adams, Athens, Fayette, Jackson, Meigs, Pike, Scioto, and Vinton counties.
Pasture is a predominant agricultural land use in Ohio’s hilly Appalachian region. Grazing animals can cause erosion problems in pastures, especially when the ground is wet and when the animals are contained near the farmstead in colder weather. The Pasture Improvement Project will help farmers install conservation practices and manage their pastures in a way that improves the quality of the pasture and the health of grazing livestock, while also protecting natural resources. The financial assistance for this project is provided through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).
The conservation practices available through the Pasture Improvement Project include access roads, watering facility, livestock pipeline, fencing, heavy use area protection, stream crossings and spring development, and pumping plants. Local sources for the labor and raw materials needed to install these practices, such as concrete, gravel, pipe, and fence posts, will be purchased locally, boosting the economy. In StrikeForce counties, boosting the economy is critical because over 20 percent of the population live in poverty.
Individuals interested in applying for the Pasture Improvement Project should make an appointment with the local NRCS conservationist to start the application and conservation planning process as soon as possible. A list of county office telephone numbers is available on-line at http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/oh/contact/local/. Additional information is available on the Ohio NRCS websites at www.oh.nrcs.usda.gov.
Applications for EQIP submitted by entities, such as farmers applying as a corporation, must register with the Central Contractor Registration (CCR), a process that can take up to three weeks. Information about CCR requirements, including obtaining a Data Universal Number System (DUNS) number, is posted on the NRCS website at www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/farmbill.w.nrcs.usda.gov/GetStarted.
To receive consideration for funding this year, apply by June 24, 2016.
This article was submitted by the Fayette SWCD.