Funding provided through Agricultural Water Enhancement Program
Western United Dairymen (WUD) has secured $500,000 for water quality projects on dairies in California's Central Valley. The funding is provided through the Agricultural Water Enhancement Program (AWEP), part of the 2008 Farm Bill conservation title, and is administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).
"AWEP is a voluntary conservation initiative that provides financial and technical assistance to farmers and ranchers to improve water conditions and conserve valuable water resources on their agricultural land," said Ed Burton, NRCS state conservationist for California.
AWEP is a subpart of the NRCS Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). AWEP differs from traditional EQIP in that proposals for funding are made directly to USDA by organizations on behalf of a group of agricultural producers. In this case, Western United Dairymen applied for the funding and will help coordinate activities, although all the funding will go directly to the dairy producers.
Paul Martin, WUD's Director of Environmental Services, says that despite the difficult economic climate, dairy producers in the Central Valley have worked hard to put in place all the required professional planning for manure management required by water quality regulations. "With this new funding we will begin to implement those plans and actually lay the pipeline and build the infrastructure to handle water and manage manure in a very environmentally protective way."
NRCS California has 24 other AWEP projects from funds received in fiscal years 2009 and 2010. The projects are aimed at improving irrigation efficiency, nutrient management, groundwater quality and other conservation goals.
NRCS will announce sign-up information for dairy producers located in the Central Valley from Redding to Bakersfield in the coming weeks. For a listing of NRCS offices statewide see http://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov/locator/app?state=CA .