Woodward, Okla. —
There's only a month left for area landowners to apply for 3 agricultural aid programs offered through the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).
The deadline to apply for these programs is Nov. 16, according to the Woodward County Conservation District, which both administers the aid and assists producers with the applications.
Stanley Irving, Woodward County conservationist, said there is financial assistance available for producers who have been impacted by the exceptional drought.
The NRCS has a program called the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) which can assist with emergency issues related to livestock production and recovery efforts targeted at providing water for them and wildlife on grazing lands.
"This funding will help keep the livestock healthy, as well as addressing needs for future droughts," he said.
Through EQIP producers may apply for aid with numerous practices designed to provide immediate and future drought relief. The steps apply to watering facilities, ponds, wells, solar pumps and pipelines.
Irving said one thing to keep in mind is that "ponds that are not dry may be stagnant, which is dangerous to the health of the herd."
The NRCS drought mitigation funding may be applied for continuously, but only those received by the deadline will be considered for this year, Irving said. Applications submitted after Nov. 16 will be considered for 2013 funding, he said.
Irving said producers must already be irrigating to participate in another EQIP program designed to reduce water use to make a crop.
"To be eligible for financial aid, the land must have been irrigated for 2 of the last 5 years previous to applying, and the conservation measures that are installed through the EQIP must result in net water savings to the operating unit," he said.
This program will give farmers and ranchers the ability to install higher-efficiency irrigation systems, he said.
Applications may also be applied for continuously for this program, but only those turned in by the Nov. 16 deadline will be considered for the current funding period. The announcement of those selected to receive the assistance will be made on or before Feb. 15, 2013.
Otherwise, applicants who filed their request after Nov. 16, or who were not selected to receive funding on the Feb. 15 announcement date, may choose to remain on a waiting list for next year's evaluation period, Irving said.
Farmers and ranchers may also apply for EQIP funds to assist with quail habitat restoration and maintenance.
Irving said the program involves institution of grassland management practices. The steps include control of red cedar to increase the amount of native vegetation available to grazing herds as well as wildlife, he said.
"We accept applications all the time," said Irving. "But only applications received by Nov. 16 will be ranked and considered during the 2013 funding cycle."
Like the irrigation aid, If the application for quail habitat restoration is unfunded, or late, applicants may remain on a waiting list, if the producer chooses to remain on it.
"Any farmer or rancher in Woodward County can apply for these programs," said Irving. "We conduct them to help the producers, with that assistance then benefitting the local economy."
Contact Irving for information at (580) 256-5320, Extension 3, or go by the office at 3300 Oklahoma Avenue, Suite 800.