The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) offers voluntary Farm Bill programs that benefit both agricultural producers and the environment. In recent years, shellfish growers in other states have benefited by participating in the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), which provides technical and financial assistance to producers to address natural resource concerns and deliver environmental benefits, see fact sheet.
Discussion is ongoing with NRCS staff on how this program could assist shellfish growers in designated counties impacted by Hurricane Ian remove debris and damaged farm gear from their submerged land leases and restore to pre-hurricane conditions. Shellfish growers are encouraged to submit an EQIP application at their local NRCS offices. For Collier, Lee and Charlotte Counties, contact the Fort Myers Service Center, 3434 Hancock Bridge Parkway, Suite 209B, North Ft. Myers (Phone: 239-997-7331 ext. 3) or contact the NRCS State Office at 352-338-9500 or email SM.NRCS.FL.DISASTERINFO@USDA.GOV. The deadline to apply is November 15.
In addition, shellfish growers should sign-up with their USDA Farm Service Agency local office for the Emergency Conservation Program (ECP), see fact sheet, which helps farmers repair damage to farmlands caused by natural disasters through funding and technical assistance.