Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program Cutoff Is May 15

To be considered for cost-share help for WHIP, you need to apply by May 15.

To be considered for financial assistance through the Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program, or WHIP, in fiscal year 2009, Iowa farmers need to apply by Friday, May 15, says Dave Brommel, WHIP Program Manager for USDA-NRCS.

WHIP is a voluntary program that provides eligible participants financial and technical assistance to implement conservation plans that create, restore and enhance wildlife habitat. Program applications are accepted through a continuous sign-up process. The USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service administers the program.

Lands eligible for WHIP include: private agricultural land, nonindustrial private forestland and Indian land. Iowa's WHIP priorities places emphasis on wildlife and fisheries habitat of national and state significance by providing assistance in the following areas: forestland (15%), grassland habitat (30%), riverine habitat (20%) and wildlife management (35%).

There are rules and limits to these contracts

Iowa's WHIP financial assistance allocation for fiscal year 2009 is $602,628. Each contract is limited to a maximum of $30,000 of federal financial assistance. Historically underserved producers will receive a higher payment rate.

Thirty percent of Iowa's annual WHIP allocation is earmarked for special project funding, which allows county or regional planning that targets common wildlife habitat resource areas with multiple landowner participation. Special projects with an annual budget between $50,000 to $100,000 and a lifespan of three years or less will be considered for special funding. Special project proposals for 2010 should be submitted no later than July 1.

Visit your local NRCS office to sign up. More information about WHIP is available online at www.ia.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/whip.html.

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