The NMAA is pleased to announce our Acequia Farmer and Rancher Outreach project which is a partnership with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to provide support to farmers and ranchers with their operations; provide training workshops to new and beginning farmers and ranchers; and support more participation in USDA programs with one-on-one technical assistance.
During the Fall and Winter, it is a good time for producers to plan ahead for next year in terms of improvements you would like to implement on your farms or ranches. These include conservation practices that can improve soil health, water conservation, and overall viability of your operations. USDA programs can also be used to fund season extension practices on your farm such as high tunnels (a type of greenhouse). This month, our focus is on conservation programs through the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS).
Do you want financial and technical support to:
– Enhance your soil and sequester more carbon?
– Improve your irrigation infrastructure?
– Extend your growing season with a high tunnel?
– Implement any other improvements on your farm or ranch?
Some of the programs that are of most interest to acequia parciantes include:
Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Through EQIP, NRCS provides agricultural producers with financial resources and one-on-one help to plan and implement improvements, or what NRCS calls ‘conservation practices’. Using these practices can lead to cleaner water and air, healthier soil and better wildlife habitat, all while improving agricultural operations.
Through EQIP, NRCS co-invests in these practices with you through a cost share program in which NRCS will reimburse the producer for a portion of the cost. Some common conservation practices include irrigation systems (gated pipe, subsurface irrigation, drip irrigation), leveling of fields, planting cover crops, planting pollinator-friendly crops, managing soil erosion, etc. Starting with the 2018 Farm Bill, acequias and land grants are both eligible for the EQIP program. You may apply as an individual or as an acequias.
Resource Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). Also an NRCS program, RCPP is based on state or regional partnerships. In New Mexico, the New Mexico Association of Conservation Districts (NMACD) is the lead partner on an RCPP grant focused on acequias. Acequias apply directly to NMACD to participate in the RCPP program. RCPP funds can be used for acequia irrigation improvements. NMACD works with several partners, including the Interstate Stream Commission, local SWCDs, and the NM Acequia Association, to conduct outreach and encourage acequias to apply. RCPP will provide either technical assistance (for engineering design) or financial assistance (funding for construction).