Funding a High Tunnel Through the NRCS EQIP Seasonal High Tunnel Initiative
Here at FarmTek, we understand the benefits of growing within a high tunnel. It adds consistency to your crops, lengthens your growing season and promotes locally grown produce. Thankfully, we are not the only ones that see these positives of high tunnel crop production. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has also noticed these advantages and has taken an initiative to encourage more farmers to grow in a high tunnel or hoop house. The USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) funding was established to encourage season extension of high value crops. NRCS funding is available through the 2014 EQIP Seasonal High Tunnel Initiative to all growers and is a great option for those looking to fund or purchase a high tunnel.
How To Apply
Applying for NRCS funding is simple. All you have to do is inquire with your local NRCS office. You can find the office nearest you by checking out the USDA’s Service Center Locater. Following this link will allow you to select your state, which county you live in, and then provide you with the contact information for your local NRCS office. After contacting your local office, you will receive some paperwork, which you will need to fill out and return in order to be officially considered for funding.
There are very few limitations when it comes to who can apply for funding. The main factors the NRCS requires are that you are growing within a high tunnel that is at least 6’ high at its peak and is covered in 6 mil greenhouse film. Aside from that, the only other requirement the NRCS looks for is that you have $1,000 in annual sales related to agriculture and the tax information for those sales. However, if you have not previously sold your produce, as long as you are able to provide a detailed business plan as to how you are going to reach that $1,000 goal, you will be able to receive NRCS funding. The same is true for those that are planning on growing in a high tunnel, but are not currently doing so. The NRCS requires that people who are in the design stages provide a detailed drawing of the high tunnel design and layout before they can become eligible for funding.
“We’ve extended our growing season in both directions and produce higher quality fruit with less blemishes. Last summer we were harvesting 1,500 lbs. of tomatoes each week!” – Monte Skarsgard owner of 16 Premium Round Style High Tunnels.
Applying for NRCS funding is a great way to benefit the future, the economy and oneself. The NRCS offers this special funding in order to promote locally grown produce and encourage farmers to produce more of the highest valued crops. Producing high value crops in the U.S. is beneficial for the economy due to the increased demand for locally grown produce. These American-grown crops put more of America’s money into local farming and, therefore, back into the U.S. economy. This is a positive factor for the economy as a whole, as well as the farmer that is producing these quick-selling and highly popular crops.
In exchange for NRCS funding, farmers must collect data over three years and release it to the USDA. This data is reviewed by the USDA in order to determine the benefits of growing within a high tunnel and any negative factors of certain locations. These data points allow for the USDA to react to positive or negative growth trends accordingly. This ongoing study is beneficial for future farmers, because it will help prevent them from making mistakes with their growing practices and allow them to become even more profitable through the use of proven, positive growing techniques.
One of the most appealing facts of the NRCS funding is that it is truly available to all. Even if you have already received NRCS funding in the past, you are able to reapply each year to keep receiving funds. This allows farmers to keep benefiting from the USDA’s great offering, and greatly encourages those farmers that have seen success from high tunnel growth to expand production. When farmers keep applying and receiving funds, it means that they are continuing to release year’s worth of data about their growing, and that allows for the USDA to get an even better look at growth rates and trends.
“The biggest surprise benefit that I realized from the high tunnel was the extension of my growing season from maybe 90 days to 120 days, even though they are in no way heated.” –Susan Hall owner of three Premium Round Style High Tunnels
Growing within a hoop house or high tunnel is a highly beneficial means of crop production; growing seasons are lengthened and produce becomes bountiful. The USDA has noticed the positives of high tunnel growing, and they have been investing their time and money in order to develop a complete understanding of it. Here at FarmTek, we have seen the positives of covered crop production, and we believe all farmers should capitalize on this fantastic opportunity with an NRCS funded high tunnel.
If you are interested in this beneficial program, we can help you throughout the entire process here at FarmTek. We are an approved NRCS vendor, offering stock units and custom-built options that meet all the NRCS’s building needs. One of our knowledgeable greenhouse specialists can help you choose the right NRCS-approved high tunnel for your needs and guide you through the process of applying for funding. If you are interested in an NRCS funded high tunnel or have any questions about the program, give us a call at 800.327.6835×1265, we are always happy to help.
“We have gotten a lot of produce out of it. The structure is very spacious, with easy roll-up sides. It even looks nice!” –Kelly Bull, Premium Round Style High Tunnel owner