USDA Secretary Vilsack and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Chief White announced the National Water Quality Initiative, which will work in priority watersheds to help farmers, ranchers and forest landowners improve water quality and aquatic habitats in impaired streams.

NRCS will help producers implement conservation and management practices through a systems approach to control and trap nutrient/manure runoff. Qualified producers will receive assistance for implementing conservation practices such as cover crops, filter strips and terraces. Eligible watersheds are in all 50 states and noted in the map at www.nrcs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprdb1047764.pdf.

NRCS will provide technical assistance and planning tools to determine which conservation actions will provide the best results to improve water quality on an individual’s land. Nutrient management systems, erosion control, conservation tillage, pest management and buffer systems are just some of the practices being offered as part of this initiative. To help implement these conservation practices, financial assistance to share in their cost is available through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).

All applications for funding consideration during FY12 must be received by June 15, 2012. Producers, whose operation is in a selected watershed and are interested in the program, should contact their local NRCS office.