GRANTS CAN HELP FARMERS SAVE ENERGY

Norwich - Farmers are invited to apply for USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service grants to help them transition to more energy efficient operations.

The initiative will make funding available for individual on-farm energy audits designed to save money and energy. Although applications are accepted on a continuous basis, to be eligible for the next batching period, applications are due at local NRCS offices on or before Jan. 17.

The audits will be individually tailored to assess each farm's primary energy uses, including lighting, irrigation pumping, greenhouse fans, insulation and heating in greenhouses, maple syrup operations, and cropping systems. NRCS will provide a payment for the initial audits and the associated Agricultural Energy Management Plan. The plan provides producers with a roadmap for future implementation of energy-efficient practices. Funding is available on a first-come, first-serve basis. If approved, producers will be asked to select an NRCS-certified local Technical Service Provider or contractor to perform the audit and develop the plan.

For information, visit www.ct.nrcs.usda.gov/programs, or call the USDA Field Office in Norwich at (860) 887-3604.

Norwich - The deadline for enrollment in the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service's Conservation Stewardship Program has been extended to Feb. 7.

The conservation program helps established conservation stewards take their level of natural resource management to the next level to improve their agricultural production and provide valuable conservation benefits such as cleaner and more abundant water, healthier soils, and better wildlife habitat, the NRSC said in a news release.

The program is in its fifth year, and thus far NRCS has partnered with producers to enroll more than 59 million acres nationwide.

Farmers can use a self-screening checklist available online to help determine if the program is suitable for their operation. It can be found at www.ct.nrcs.usda.gov/programs, or call the NRCS field office in Norwich at (860) 887-3604.

Norwich - Applications for the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service's Organic Initiative are due Jan. 17.

The Organic Initiative, part of the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, offers conservation practices specifically designed for organic production including cover crops, nutrient and pest management, seasonal high tunnels, crop rotation, and fencing.

Nationwide, NRCS has nearly $50 million in financial and technical assistance available to certified organic producers, those who want to make the transition to organic production, and producers who sell less than $5,000 in organic products annually.

Interested farmers should contact the USDA Service Center in Norwich at (860) 887-3604.

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