Water Withdrawal Assessment Tool

The Water Withdrawal Assessment Tool is designed to estimate impact of water withdrawal on nearby streams and rivers. The use of this tool is required of anyone proposing to make a new or increased large quantity withdrawal (over 70 gal per min) from the waters of the state. You must use this tool to determine if your extraction will cause an Adverse Resource Impact, and register the withdrawal. The Water withdrawal Assessment Tool can be found at

Attention local producers interested in growing vegetables and fruits for the Greater Lansing FoodBank.

This past year the Greater Lansing Food Bank has began a voucher program that provides $5.00 redemption value for fresh produce at some local grocers and farmers markets. The cost of that program is high, but the impact is great. They want to explore reducing the cost of buying retail while supporting our local economy and thus our solicitation of potential interest with producers in our region.

This approach is new and more understanding is needed to know, what will work best for the farmers while still meeting the needs of those we serve. The GLFB intends to hold a meeting with interested farmers in the tri-county region to discuss the opportunities before releasing a request for proposals. If you have some interest in this idea, please contact Terry Link (1-517-887-4307) or [log in to unmask] at your earliest convenience so we can invite you to the meeting to be scheduled in the next couple of weeks.

The U.S.D.A is offering two programs for growers through its Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).

1.                  Fund Available for Organic Transition and Practices.  The USDA also has financial support and technical assistance for organic farmers and farmers transitioning to organic production systems. Deadline is March 12, 2010.  There is $ 1,041,000 allocated to this program for organic farmers and transitioning farmers in Michigan. To apply for these funds specifically marked for organic or transitioning organic (2 separate allocations) visit your Soil Conservation Field Office and register for EQIP funds. When completing the application you check that you are an organic farmer or transitioning organic farmer and your application will be evaluated based on organic practices.   For a directory of Soil Conservation Offices in MI go to

2.                  Financial Assistance for High Tunnels. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is offering financial assistance to landowners constructing high tunnels, also known as hoophouses, to increase the availability of locally grown produce. The application deadline is Feb. 19. Read on for details…

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 Information about USDA conservation programs is also available from local conservation districts.

U.S.D.A. Plans to Drop Program to Trace Livestock

The National Animal Identification System is being scraped. The program will start over but will be left to the states to devise many aspects of a new system, including requirements for identifying livestock. It could take two years or more to create new federal rules.

The system was created by the Bush administration in 2004 after the discovery of a cow infected with mad cow disease. Participation in the identification system was voluntary, but the goal was to give every animal, a unique identification number that would be entered into a database. The animals would then be tracked, and if there was a disease outbreak, officials could quickly locate other animals that had been exposed. Some farmers and ranchers objected to the cost of the identification equipment, and thought the system was intrusive and that the federal government would use it to pry into their lives and finances. The old system received $142 million in federal financing, but gained the participation of only 40 percent of the nation’s livestock producers, according to a report by the Congressional Research Service.

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