Pa. to Help Farmers Improve Air Quality

Natural Resources Conservation Service's State Conservationist Craig Derickson on Jan. 12 announced a new Air Quality Initiative for Pennsylvania under the fiscal year 2009 Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).

"Even though program rules are still being finalized, we are urging eligible farmers to apply as soon as possible," said Derickson. "By accepting EQIP applications now, we can develop conservation plans that address important air quality concerns and be well positioned to provide contracts to producers in the next few weeks."

The EQIP Air Quality Initiative provides both technical and financial assistance to farmers interested in improving the air quality of their operation. The financial assistance can include incentive payments for management activities and cost-share for the installation of certain conservation practices.

NRCS will offer up to $2.4 million in fiscal year 2009 for participants to implement practices that control emissions in counties that exceed National Ambient Air Quality Standards for fine particulate matter (PM 2.5) and 8-hour surface ozone (03) levels. NRCS has identified the following priority Field Office Training Guide (FOTG) conservation practices and activities for the 2009 Pennsylvania EQIP Air Quality Initiative: Residue Management, No Till, Mulch Till, Manure Injection, Earlier Cover Crop Seeding, Windbreak Establishment around livestock and poultry facilities, Feed Management, Bio-filters, Waste Treatments, Waste Facility Covers, Anaerobic Digesters, Manure Separators, Manure Amendment, and Composting Facilities.

Farmers who wish to test an innovative practice not yet in general use can apply to NRCS's Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG) Program, which is expected to be announced later this spring.

To apply, producers should first contact an NRCS office located at a local USDA Service Center. Offices can be found at: http://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov/locator/.

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