While a brand-new U.S. Farm Bill, the first in more than five years, has made its way through the hoops and has been passed, the last brief extension of the 2008 Farm Bill included some additional funding that I’d like to share with you. This funding very well could help you with your agriculture business. [emember_protected custom_msg=”Click here and register now to read the rest of the article!”]
The extended Farm Bill allows the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Florida to give farmers and ranchers additional opportunities— and some financial means— to improve water and air quality, improve forest lands, build healthier soil, enhance organic operations, conserve energy, and achieve other environmental benefits. As described by the NRCS, programs applicable in Central Florida include the following:
- • Organic Initiative: Helps producers install conservation practices on USDA-certified organic operations or those working toward organic certification.
- • Seasonal High Tunnel Initiative: Helps producers install high tunnels designed to extend the growing season, increase productivity, keep plants at a steady temperature, and conserve water and energy.
- • On-Farm Energy Initiative: Helps producers conserve energy on their operations.
- • Longleaf Pine Initiative: Helps private landowners improve the sustainability and profitability of Longleaf pine forest ecosystems.
- • Working Lands for Wildlife Initiative: Provides technical and financial assistance for landowners who voluntarily choose to implement conservation practices that benefit the habitat of the target species‚ the gopher tortoise in Florida, while continuing to manage the habitat as working lands.
For details about these initiatives (there’s a Feb. 21 application deadline for this year’s funding, but applications are accepted on a continuous basis), visit your local NRCS service center. In our area, a service center can be found in Bartow at 1700 U.S. Highway 17 S. The phone number is (863) 533-2051. For more about NRCS programs in Florida, go online to http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/site/fl/home/.
column by BAXTER TROUTMAN
BIO: Baxter Troutman is founder and chief executive officer of Labor Solutions, a staffing company with offices in Bartow, Winter Haven, Lake Wales, and Arcadia. A citrus grower who served in the Florida House of Representatives, Troutman understands the challenges and concerns of today’s farmer.[/emember_protected]