Alphabet Soup: M,N and O

In the series “A’s to Z’s of Grants with Ease”. We previously covered the first half of the alphabet and now we will explore Monarch butterflies, NRCS and On-farm energy audit.


Monarchs: USDA is launching a new conservation effort to help agricultural producers provide food and habitat for monarch butterflies in the Midwest and southern Great Plains. NRCS will invest $4 million in 2016 to help combat the iconic species’ decline. States included are at the heart of the butterfly’s migration route, including Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas and Wisconsin. You could receive CSP funding if you live in these states and want to plant milkweed and other nectar-rich plants along field borders, in buffers along waterways or around wetlands, in pastures and other suitable locations. Remember that CSP funding can offer your farm $80,000/year for a 5-year contract if you have 2 eligible entities.

stripNRCS: The USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service administers the EQIP, CSP, and CRP programs, which we have mentioned previously. The NRCS website describes the 5-step process of working with NRCS as:

  1. Planning (visit their office to discuss your goals);
  2. Application (with their assistance, you complete the application process. Applications for most programs are accepted on a continuous basis, but they’re considered for funding in different ranking periods. Be sure to ask your local NRCS district conservationist about the deadline for the ranking period to ensure you turn in your application in time.For many states, the application period is now, so do not delay or you might have to wait an entire year.
  3. They determine if you are eligible, which you should be.
  4. Ranking: NRCS will take a look at the applications and rank them according to local resource concerns, the amount of conservation benefits the work will provide and the needs of applicants.
  5. If you’re selected, you can choose whether to sign the contract for the work to be done. Once you sign the contract, you’ll be provided standards and specifications for completing the practice or practices, and then you will have a specified amount of time to implement. Once the work is implemented and inspected, you’ll be paid the rate of compensation for the work if it meets NRCS standards and specifications.

stripOn-farm energy audit:  You may ask NRCS if they will fund a Conservation Activity Plan 128 (CAP 128), which is an on-farm energy audit. The only time I’ve heard of NRCS saying “no” was when they did not have enough money that year and they advised the applicant to ask again the following year. Once you have the contractual approval from them, you may select a Technical Service Provider (TSP) from their list to come to your farm and write a report advising you of ways to save money on utility bills. Bruce Everly of EIM is a TSP in most states and he charges no additional fees beyond what NRCS pays. Regardless of whom you select, we strongly encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity. Not only does the CAP 128 report give suggestions for reducing your utility bills, but many times the report can be used to secure NRCS funding to help purchase the energy-saving devices.

More in our next issue, where we’ll continue untangling the alphabet soup of grant and subsidy acronyms!

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