USDA-NRCS awards $8.5M in conservation assistance to Caribbean farmers in ’20
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) approved 364 new Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) contracts worth about $8.5 million in Fiscal 2020, the agency said.
It worked in partnership with farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners in the Caribbean Area (Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands), to develop conservation plans for 16,827 acres of agricultural lands, the agency said.
“Thank you to our team for a great year in dedication to our natural resources and our customers,” said Luis Cruz-Arroyo, NRCS Caribbean Area State Conservationist. “I’m extremely proud of all the work that has been done from the front lines with our customers to everything happening behind the scenes.”
EQIP is a voluntary conservation program that provides financial and technical assistance to farmers and ranchers to help install and implement conservation practices on eligible agricultural land.
Through the program, NRCS helps farmers in Puerto Rico and the USVI to improve agricultural production and environmental quality, the agency confirmed.
NRCS Caribbean Area also opened a special one-month sign-up from Aug. 18–Sept. 18 for EQIP equitable relief assistance to help farmers in Puerto Rico repair and rebuild conservation practices installed through NRCS programs that were damaged by Tropical Storm Isaias.
NRCS made three emergency recovery practices available to impacted farmers: obstruction removal, clearing and snagging (of debris in waterways) and fencing. More than 50 farmers applied for emergency assistance, the agency said.
NRCS also opened the first sign-up period for fiscal year 2021 EQIP funding to address farmers’ natural resource concerns. EQIP applications are accepted year-round, however, NRCS sets application “cut-off” or submission deadlines to evaluate, rank and approve eligible applications. The Period 1 cut-off date for Fiscal 2021 is Oct. 30, 2020.