Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Missouri Receives More Than $1 million for Season High Tunnel Initiative Funding

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has allocated a nation-high $1,065,000 for distribution to the 2012 Seasonal High Tunnel Initiative in Missouri. High tunnels, made of plastic or metal pipe covered with a layer of plastic sheeting, capture solar energy and enable farmers to grow crops in climates at times of the year in which it would otherwise be impossible. High tunnels reduce pesticide use, keep vital nutrients in the soil and extend the growing season which in turn extends yields. The nearly $1.1 million in federal funding will assist in building approximately 177 high tunnels in Missouri over the next year.

"I'm pleased that Missouri has received such a significant amount of funding for the high tunnel initiative," NRCS State Conservationist J.R. Flores said. "It speaks to both the interest and the need of the landowners in our state. The farmers who sell their produce locally benefit from the extra income that comes from a high tunnel and the community benefits from the availability of fresh, locally grown food."

$15 million will be distributed across the nation for seasonal high tunnel funding with Michigan receiving the second-highest share behind Missouri with $969,000.

NRCS offers financial assistance, $2.57 per square foot or $3.08 per square foot for beginning or historically underserved farmers, for high tunnels up to 2,178 square feet through the Environmental quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Landowners may construct larger high tunnels, but any square footage greater than 2,178 is at the landowner's expense. Since 2010, 162 Missouri producers have installed high tunnels through EQIP. NRCS has paid $715,000 to those producers.

Applications for seasonal high tunnels are being accepted on a continuous basis although three application period cutoffs have been established to evaluate and approve those received to date. The dates for the remaining two application periods are March 30 and June 1. Those interested in applying for a seasonal high tunnel may submit an application to their local NRCS service center. NRCS can be found in the phone book under "U.S. Government, Department of Agriculture," or online.

Under the High Tunnel Loan Program, Missouri producers who have been approved by NRCS through either the USDA NRCS EQIP Season High Tunnel Initiative or the EQIP Organic Initiative for a seasonal high tunnel reimbursement may be eligible for a short term loan from the Missouri Agricultural and Small Business Development Authority. Loans are available at a fixed rate of 7.5 percent interest for the amount obligated to the producer by USDA NRCS for a term of up to one year. Contact the Missouri Department of Agriculture for more information at 573-751-2129.

No comments:

Post a Comment