Advice offered for reaping farm aid grants
Sarah and Pat Ellis wanted to get some advice last year about controlling noxious weeds on their 640-acre cattle ranch on McCourtney Road.
So the ranchers called the Grass Valley office of the federal Natural Resources Conservation Service.
Thanks to that phone call, the couple wound up with about $20,000 in federal funding to improve springs from which their cattle drink and to clear brush from 40 acres of their land.
“In agriculture, there’s not a lot of money in it anyway. It’s nice when there’s grants available to help,” Pat Ellis said. The government picked up three-quarters of the bill for the work, he explained.
There’s more where that came from.
Tonight at a meeting in Lincoln, officials will discuss the $200,000 in grant funding currently available to Nevada County ranchers, farmers and private land owners through the 2002 farm bill, a $249 billion piece of legislation signed into law in May by President George W. Bush.
“We used to have to split $200,000 with three counties. It’s a big step for us, we’re really excited,” said Allison Bettencourt, a federal soil conservationist based in Grass Valley.
The feds will foot three-quarters of the bill for such things as installation of irrigation systems. “They’re incentive programs to help land owners conserve natural resources,” Bettencourt said.
Funding is available for an alphabet soup of programs, including one called WHIP, or Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program, and EQIP, the Environmental Quality Incentives Program.
To help explain the various programs’ guidelines and who qualifies, Charles Bell, the state conservationist for the Natural Resources Conservation Service, will be at tonight’s meeting.
“Understanding the programs is the first step to participation,” Bell said.
KNOW & GO
WHAT: Farm bill informational meeting
WHEN: 6:30 p.m. today
WHERE: Sun City Orchard Creek Lodge, 965 Orchard Creek Lane, Lincoln
INFORMATION: Ron Zinke or Allison Bettencourt at Grass Valley’s Natural Resources Conservation Service at 272-3417. Information also is available on line at http://www.nrcs.usda.gov (click on Farm Bill 2002).
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