After a 16-day mandatory furlough, Indiana Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) employees are back to work under the Fiscal Year 2014 Continuing Resolution. State Conservationist Jane Hardisty said she is proud of the over 200 agency employees located in Indiana for their timely shutdown of offices on October 1st and their professionalism during this hard time.
The shutdown impacted many of NRCS’s partner organizations and agencies, such as Soil and Water Conservation Districts and Indiana Department of Agriculture that are co-located in USDA service centers. Hardisty said, “While our dedicated employees are ready to get back to working with our customers to carry out projects and get conservation on the ground, I am also very proud of our Indiana Conservation Partnership staff who stepped up to make themselves available to provide assistance with their limited resources.”
The Continuing Resolution provides funding for several Farm Bill conservation programs, including the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and the Conservation Stewardship Program (CStP). Participants with interest in these programs are encouraged to submit applications to their local field office on a continuous basis. Sign-up deadlines for funding rounds will be announced at a later date. Those participants with prior year agreements that installed practices during the mandatory furlough period should notify their local field office of activities completed so that practices may be certified and payments processed.
Due to the expiration of the Farm Bill, several conservation program authorities have lapsed, including the Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP), Grasslands Reserve Program (GRP) and Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). No new applications may be accepted at this time. NRCS will continue to assist with agreements from prior years to ensure conservation practices are implemented and the easement closings and restoration activities are completed.
Hardisty says she is confident that start-up activities will run smoothly. “We have a back log of work and requests that will need to be dealt with in the coming weeks.” She asks for everyone’s patience as they prioritize activities and get back to business.
For more information about the agency’s programs and services, visit our website www.in.nrcs.usda.gov or contact the NRCS office near you https://www.in.nrcs.usda.gov/contact/directory/dclist.html.