Putting the Farm Bill to Work for California Specialty Crop Growers

Growers understand better than most people the value of practices that conserve natural resources and protect the environment. They also face an increasing array of environmental and regulatory challenges from water quality to endangered species. However, implementing those practices can also be expensive for growers.Figs and Strawberries Now there is a program that can provide financial assistance to growers who want support for the additional costs of using environmentally sound farming practices.

The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) is a voluntary program administered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) that provides payments to eligible growers for the use of a wide range of practices on their farms. Growers can receive incentive payments to implement practices such as integrated pest management and nutrient management. Cost-share payments are also available to assist with installation of other structural and vegetative practices such as irrigation system improvements. This past year more than $47 million were available for California farmers and ranchers through EQIP.

Since growers may not be familiar with the way this program can benefit them, the Center for Agricultural Partnerships, California grower organizations, PCAs, University of California Cooperative Extension and UC Statewide IPM Program, California NRCS, and the Center for Agricultural Partnerships, in a program to help increase grower awareness about EQIP and use of conservation practices. The "Putting the Farm Bill to Work" Program will be working with growers and PCAs to demonstrate how EQIP can work and to provide support for growers to participate.

Your local NRCS staff can provide you information about key resource concerns and the application process. You can find the NRCS office in your county at: http://www.ca.nrcs.usda.gov/about/. Click "Find a service center" at the left, to access the directory.

If you’d like more information on production and environmental benefits of using IPM on your farm and how EQIP and other conservation programs may assist, visit http://www.agcenter.org/progfarmbill.html.

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