Dear Subscribers,

I have just been informed the application deadline for financial assistance for high tunnels has been extended. The new deadline is March 12, 2010.

USDA Offering Financial Assistance for High Tunnels

EAST LANSING, Jan. 22, 2010 The U.S. Department of Agriculture has financial assistance available to landowners interested in constructing high tunnels to increase the availability of locally grown produce.

The assistance is available through a pilot program that utilizes financial assistance from the Environmental Quality Incentives Program administered by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. High tunnels are made of ribs of plastic or metal pipe covered with a layer of plastic sheeting and are easy to build, maintain and move. High tunnels provide a protected environment for vegetables or other crops and are mainly used to increase temperature in early spring and fall for extended crop production.

NRCS-Michigan is participating in the 3-year pilot program that will verify if high tunnels are effective in reducing pesticide use, keeping vital nutrients in the soil, extending the growing season, increasing yields, and providing other benefits to growers. The program will provide financial assistance for the construction of one high tunnel per farm. The high tunnel must be constructed from a pre-manufactured kit and have an interior height of at least 6-feet.

Financial assistance from the pilot program will cover 75 percent of the estimated cost of constructing a high tunnel of up to 2,178-square-feet. The amount of financial assistance is determined on a square-foot basis with a limit of $4,166. Historically-underserved producers and beginning farmers can receive 90 percent of the estimated cost for a maximum of $4,944.

Applications must be submitted to a local NRCS field office. Additional information and a listing of Michigan NRCS field offices can be found at www.mi.nrcs.usda.gov. Information about USDA conservation programs is also available from local conservation districts.

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