About two years ago, we sat down with Jose Pagan from the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). We thought his advice and information was so important for those of you in the poultry industry that we wanted to re-share it in 2022!
NRCS- Natural Resources Conservation Service
Jose gave us the insider tips on how the NRCS can not only help you find ways to save money on your farm (like energy and water), but even receive money for poultry farming projects through their cost-share programs (even from 75 to 90% of the cost!).
As Jose states in the video, the USDA NRCS’s main objective is “to help people help the land.” The conservation agency offers both financial and technical assistance, doing everything they can to protect their five defined natural resources of soil, water, air, plants and animals.
Two main categories of voluntary programs offered by the USDA NRCS
EQIP is the primary program, and then CSP takes conservation to the next level. As Jose explains, CSP is for farmers who have already completed a number of conservation projects and are seeking to build on them.
Within EQIP and CSP, popular conservation practices for poultry farmers include those related to animal waste management, mortality, water management, stackhouses and energy.
This means that if you include one of these elements in your poultry production, the NRCS may be able to turn this into a cost-share program, which saves you money and helps your farm.
Three Main Benefits for Poultry Production
Poultry farming practices, for example mortality reduction of broiler chickens through disease prevention, are a win-win-win with the NRCS.
Win #1: Save Money on your Poultry Production
Who doesn't want to save money on a broiler production? Or any business, for that matter. The NRCS wants to protect the aforementioned natural resources in the poultry industry so much that they're willing to help you pay to implement them! Plus once they're implemented, it's you'll continue to save money on expenses like water, energy and waste.
Win #2: Improve your Poultry Production
How great is it to save money while ALSO improving poultry production? Whether it's maximum egg production or producing more poultry meat, implementing conservation programs with the USDA NRCS can help you along the way. The point of their program is to promote conservation and the success of poultry production.
Win #3: Have a more Environmentally-Friendly Poultry Production
We know the environmental/sustainability conversation can be complicated in poultry farming and agriculture in general. But here's the simple fact: there are several ways you can improve poultry production, save money AND help protect the environment. And if you can make your broiler production more effective while, say, saving water, why the heck not?
Examples of NRCS Projects
According to Jose, one of the most popular NRCS programs is poultry waste management. Manure can be properly disposed through fertilizer use, which then provides nutrients to crops.
The NRCS can also help establish compost stackhouse and incinerator facilities for mortality management (see our video on stackhouses for more information on mortality management). They can help install gutters to help water management and prevent erosion around houses.
NRCS has also been known to help farms achieve huge energy savings through insulation and lights. These programs quickly pay for themselves! For more information on energy savings, check out our blog on LED lighting in poultry houses.
How to Apply for Cost-Share Programs for Poultry Production
- Go to your local USDA service center to get an account number. NRCS’s sister agency, the Farm Service Agency, will set this up for you. *Required documents to bring: plat sheet and deed of land (or lease agreement)
- Meet with a representative at your local NRCS office to discuss programs and APPLY!
USDA places the highest value on practices that make the largest positive environmental impact. The good news for poultry farming is that animal waste management and energy conservation are very high priorities!
To increase your chances for being selected to receive funding, Jose advises farmers to “look at the resource concerns that are around and try to hit as many as you can.”
Consider your farm: Is egg production or poultry meat weight lacking? If so, why? Does it relate to resources? Are you noticing poultry diseases or poultry nutrition issues that are causing high mortality rates? How are you dealing with mortality of your broiler chickens? Poultry producers can think through the details of their farm to find opportunities for NRCS projects.
Farmers who participate in the programs receive funding for up to 75% of the project cost. Beginner farmers (farming less than 10 years), minority farmers and veterans can even get up to 90% of the project covered by the USDA NRCS.
Jose has seen farms working on updating energy efficiency receive $80,000–$90,000+ depending on the operation size. It’s a win-win! You get money to help the environment and by doing so, you save money in the long run. Plus, these programs can help you reach maximum egg production, meat production and overall bird health.
We've heard great things about poultry farmers' experiences with the NRCS and hope some of y'all can take advantage of this program. If you have any questions about NRCS programs, would like me to connect you to Jose or simply want to learn more, give Allen Reynolds a call anytime at 706-424-4471.
USDA Farmers.gov website: https://www.farmers.gov/
USDA NRCS website: https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/site/national/home/
Improving your farm through poultry nutrition
When you're not working with the NRCS, we at Southland recommend improving your farm through poultry diets and fighting animal diseases. We make bird health supplements for poultry meat and egg production. If you're interested in this type of farm improvement, check out our products here.