NRCS opens sign-up period for Louisiana conservation assistance

ducks in a winter-flooded rice field

In return for financial assistance, rice growers agree to plug the drains in their fields to capture winter rains to create winter waterfowl habitat—photo by Mike Checkett

The Natural Resources Conservation Service in Louisiana announced the 1st signup period for applications for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program and Regional Conservation Partnership Program in fiscal year 2020 ends on March 6.

Financial assistance through these programs is available to help farmers and landowners plan and implement conservation practices to improve water quality, build healthier soil, improve grazing and forestlands, conserve energy, enhance organic operations, establish or improve wildlife habitat and achieve other environmental benefits on cropland and pasture, forestland and associated agricultural land including farmsteads.

NRCS offers special initiatives through EQIP that allow targeted funding for high priority practices, impaired watersheds and targeted plant and wildlife species. Some of these targeted funding opportunities include: National Water Quality Initiative and Mississippi River Basin Initiative, Longleaf Pine Initiative, On-Farm Energy Initiative, Seasonal High Tunnel Initiative, Organic Initiative, Working Lands for Wildlife- Gopher Tortoise, and Migratory Bird Habitat Initiative.

NRCS is also accepting applications for the Gulf Coast Water and Wildlife RCPP project. This project targets water quality and improving surface water irrigation on rice operations in Acadia, Allen, Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron, Evangeline, Jefferson Davis, Lafayette, St. Landry, St. Martin and Vermilion parishes.

NRCS accepts applications on a continuous basis. But due to limited funding, producers with applications submitted by March 6 will have a higher chance of application approval in 2020. Applications received after that date will be accepted and may be considered for funding in a second ranking review cycle.

For more information on NRCS Farm Bill programs, visit nrcs.usda.gov/farmbill or contact your local NRCS field office.

NRCS contributed this article.