COLUMBUS – Ohio farmers have until March 20 to apply for financial assistance to improve natural resources on their land

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service in Ohio designated several focus areas for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) funds that will go to successful applicants.

Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) funding is available for farmers in Ohio’s portion of the Great Lakes watershed to apply conservation practices that improve water and soil quality or provide wildlife habitat. Farmers in the Western Lake Erie Basin also have the option of focusing on creating honey bee habitat with conservation practices such as planting certain types of cover crops or planting bee-friendly field borders.

All Ohio farmers can apply for assistance to fund energy conserving practices on the farm. Using more energy-efficient fixtures and equipment for animal housing or reducing fuel consumption through precision agriculture not only saves natural resources, but can also result in significant cost savings for the farmer.

Seasonal high tunnels are another conservation practice available to farmers state-wide. Increasingly popular with specialty crop growers, these structures and the management practices used to grow crops in them can improve soil health, improve irrigation efficiency, and help control pests. From a production standpoint, seasonal high tunnels allow for planting earlier in the spring and harvesting later in the fall.

Organic farmers or farmers interested in transitioning into organic production can also apply for EQIP regardless of the farm location. While organic farmers can also apply for other EQIP funding, the probability of receiving funding increases because only organic farmers compete for these funds. All applications for EQIP are ranked for their environmental benefit; those providing the most benefit receive the highest priority for funding.

Applications for EQIP submitted by entities, such as farmers applying as a corporation, must have a DUNS (Data Universal Numbering System) number and an active SAM (System for Award Management) registration status when applying, a process that may take several weeks. Applications cannot be processed without this information. Information on obtaining a DUNS number and registering with SAM is posted at www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/farmbill.

For more information about EQIP or other technical or financial assistance programs offered by NRCS, please contact a local service center: http://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov/locator/app?agency=nrcs