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Funding assistance might be available for Md. farmers who practice conservation

April 08, 2008

ANNAPOLIS - Jon Hall, state conservationist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service, has announced that Maryland is accepting applications for financial assistance for applying conservation practices through the Agricultural Management Assistance Program.

AMA helps producers adopt conservation practices and investment strategies that will reduce or mitigate risks to their agricultural enterprises.

All applications received by April 15, will receive consideration for AMA funds. On that date, applications received in NRCS offices will be evaluated and ranked according to levels of environmental benefits and available funds. After that date, if additional AMA funds remain, NRCS will evaluate and rank applications on May 15.

Maryland farmers interested in receiving financial assistance through AMA should contact their local NRCS or Soil Conservation District office at USDA Service Centers, for more information on eligible conservation practices, the application process, and receiving conservation assistance through the AMA Program. NRCS has leadership responsibility for implementing AMA.

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Information on these programs is available at USDA Service Centers or at www.md.nrcs.usda.gov.

In 2006, NRCS used AMA funds to provide $450,611 in cost share assistance on 1,184 acres on 20 Maryland farms. AMA cost-share assistance was used to assist Maryland producers interested in the transition to organic production.

In Maryland, some of the conservation practices eligible for AMA Program funding are:

· Irrigation - Micro-Irrigation and irrigation water management

· Tail Water Recovery -Storage Facility

· Windbreak/Shelterbelt Establishment

· Prescribed Grazing and associated practices

· Transition to Organic and associated practices

· Soil quality enhancement practices including Conservation Crop Rotation, Residue management No-till and Mulch Till

In order to be eligible for AMA, program participation applicants are required to:

· Own or control the land,

· Implement specific eligible conservation practices,

· Meet the Food Security Act 'person' definition, and

· Maintain the cost-share practices for the life of the practice.

Maryland's landowners can learn more about AMA and other Farm Bill Programs by contacting NRCS Maryland offices or by visiting the NRCS Maryland homepage at www.md.nrcs.usda.gov.

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