COLUMBUS, Ohio, June 8, 2016 –As part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s StrikeForce, expanded to include several Ohio counties this year, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is now offering financial and technical assistance to eligible landowners in Morgan and Guernsey Counties through the new Conservation Enhancement and Outreach Project.
In StrikeForce counties, over 20 percent of the population live below the poverty level. Designed to increase access to USDA programs and services to people living in areas of persistent poverty, USDA staff in StrikeForce counties collaborate with State, local, and community officials to leverage community and economic development opportunities.
The conservation practices available through the Conservation Enhancement and Outreach Projectprotect natural resources whileenhancing pasture, crop, and forest land. Nutrient management practices, such as animal waste storage facilities and cover crops, protect water quality and improve soil health. Brush and herbaceous weed control practices improve forest and grass lands by stemming the spread of invasive and noxious plants that often crowd out native plants or harm livestock. High tunnel systems extend the growing season and provide a source of locally grown produce in areas far from grocery stores. Several other conservation practices are also available for site-specific natural resource management needs.
The benefits of conservation applied on an individual’s land extend into the local economy. Typically, landowners installing conservation practices use local sources of raw materials and labor.Improved land is more productive land which generates more income that may be used for higher education, local purchases, and local investments.
Individuals interested in applying for the Conservation Enhancement and Outreach Projectshould make an appointment with the local NRCS conservationist as soon as possible. To receive financial assistance,an application for Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) funds is required. Landowners in Guernsey County should call 740-432-5621, ext. 3.
Applications for EQIP submitted by entities, such as farmers applying as a corporation, must register with the Central Contractor Registration (CCR), a process that can take up to 3 weeks. Information about CCR requirements, including obtaining a Data Universal Number System (DUNS) number, is posted on the NRCS website at www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/farmbill.w.nrcs.usda.gov/GetStarted.