USDA Program Helps Massachusetts Farmers

Help available to farmers and forest land owners...

Amherst - The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is accepting applications for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), which helps farmers and forest land owners improve water quality, conserve water and energy, reduce soil erosion and sedimentation, and improve soil health, wildlife habitat, plant and animal communities. 

Farmers and forest land owners may apply for financial and technical assistance through EQIP at any time throughout the year by visiting their local NRCS field office. USDA Service Center locations are listed on-line at http://offices.usda.gov.

Funding decisions will be made monthly and will continue until federal fiscal year 2018 funds are exhausted. Complete applications will be ranked on the third Friday of each month. A conservation plan must be completed before an application can be considered for funding, so farmers are encouraged to call or stop by their local NRCS field office as soon as possible.

EQIP, a voluntary program authorized under the 2014 Farm Bill, provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers and forest land owners to address natural resource concerns through an array of conservation practices. General program information is available on the NRCS Massachusetts website at www.ma.nrcs.usda.gov.

EQIP can provide eligible applicants up to $450,000 over the six-year life of the Farm Bill. Program applicants can choose to compete in any of the various funding pools, including: 

  • Land use pools - cropland, pasture and hayland, farmsteads. forestland, and wildlife habitat;
  • Special initiative pools - aerial cover crops, high tunnel systems, certified or transitioning organic production, on-farm energy conservation, New England Cottontail habitat, the Palmer River Watershed water quality initiative, and third party written Conservation Activity Plans
  • Historically underserved farmer pools – Indian tribes, beginning farmers, socially disadvantaged farmers, limited resource farmers

“If you operate a farm or manage forest land and want to improve your land, we can help,” said Christine Clarke, State Conservationist for NRCS in Massachusetts. “A planner will discuss with you your vision for your land, and will explain the conservation planning process and how to apply for financial assistance.”

NRCS is a federal agency that works hand-in-hand with the people of Massachusetts to improve and protect soil, water and other natural resources. The agency has offices in USDA Service Centers in Greenfield, Hadley, Holden, Pittsfield, Westford, West Wareham and West Yarmouth, which work with local conservation districts and other partners to serve farmers and landowners in their area.

Here on Cape Cod the USDA maintains an ofice in West Yarmouth.  Mia M. Halter, District Conservationist, tells Cape Cod Today "Our staff in the Field Office in West Yarmouth work with both large and small farms. Traditional farms, organic farms, and even shell-fisherman. We have a full toolbox of conservation practices to address natural resource concerns resulting from agriculture/aquiculture activities including flume replacement and irrigation improvement for cranberry growers, pest management for shell-fisherman, and soil health practices for row-crops. We offer technical assistance, conservation farm planning, and financial program assistance via the 2014 Farm Bill. We have worked with many farmers on Cape Cod and we’re continually looking to meet new growers.  Our field office that serves the Cape and Islands is located at 303 Main St., Route 28, West Yarmouth, MA."


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