Partnership targets USDA stewardship funds to northwest Michigan

Erin Robinstine
Farmers Advance

EAST LANSING, MI – Agricultural producers and private non-industrial forest owners in Northwest Michigan who are actively managing their land’s natural resources may be able to receive annual payments from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Funding available through the USDA Conservation Stewardship Program which provides annual payments for maintaining conservation practices and financial assistance for additional conservation enhancements. 

The application deadline for this current funding opportunity is June 24, 2019. Applications are accepted at USDA Service Centers and online through USDA Conservation Client Gateway.

Conservation Stewardship Program funding for Northwest Michigan is available through the Tribal Stream and Michigan Fruitbelt Collaborative, a project of the Regional Conservation Partnership Program. Counties eligible for this initiative include Antrim, Benzie, Charlevoix, Emmet, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, Lake, Leelanau, Manistee, Mason, Missaukee, Newaygo, Oceana, Osceola and Wexford.

Through the Conservation Stewardship Program, agricultural producers and forest landowners earn payments for actively managing, maintaining, and expanding conservation activities like cover crops, ecologically-based pest management, buffer strips, and pollinator and beneficial insect habitat – all while maintaining active agricultural production on their land. 

Eligibility for the Conservation Stewardship Program depends on an operation’s current level of resource management. Agricultural and private forest operations that participate in USDA conservation programs, are verified through the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program, or have forest management plans, are good candidates for enrollment in the program. Applicants who have not participated in USDA programs will need to establish a farm record with the USDA Farm Service Agency.

The Tribal Stream and Michigan Fruitbelt Collaborative was created in 2016 through the USDA Regional Conservation Partnership Program. The lead partner for the project is the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians. The project also includes funding for improving fish passages and conserving agricultural land.

Potential applicants should contact their local USDA Service Center for more information.