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Author Topic: Has anyone applied or received free hoop house from farm bill?
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  growupgreener
  sarasota
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Has anyone applied or received free hoop house from farm bill?    (Posted Mon, Feb 15 '10 at 01:36 UTC)

We have been patiently waiting for information from our USDA representative on what we need to do for the free hoop house from the approved farm bill.
Has anyone received one, has anyone filled out the paperwork yet?
Does anyone know if all state requirements are the same?

charlie curbeur
 Ohiorganic
 Eaton
Re: Has anyone applied or received free hoop house from farm bill?    (Posted Mon, Feb 15 '10 at 02:41 UTC)Positive Rank

First it is not a free hoop house-they will subsidize up to 70% of the cost of a hoop house which can be no bigger than 24' x 96'.

This is a NRCS grant done through EQIP. Requirements vary from state to state but I believe in all states your first step is to sign up with the FSA. I also believe in all the states doing this (not all 50 states are involved) the time has passed to sign up.

Lucy Goodman Boulder Belt Eco-Farm Eaton, OH http://boulderbelt.blogspot.com http://www.boulderbeltfarm.com
 darutherford
 Silex
Re: Has anyone applied or received free hoop house from farm bill?    (Posted Mon, Feb 15 '10 at 06:10 UTC)Positive Rank

For most states the signup ends around the 19th of this month through your NRCS office - NOT the USDA. 38 states are lined up for this project - the grant will cover 75% of a kit high tunnel - 2178 sq. ft to be exact. It will also cover some of the cost of the labor to erect it. No aspect can be permanent - no electric or heat allowed. You don't mention that you're in the Beginning Farm program (USDA) but if you were, you'd be in line to receive 95% of the grant allowed for the high tunnel project.

Don't know if FL, Sarasota - is one of the 38 states, but if you do a search online for the NRCS office close to your location, you should be able to find out some information.

Desiree Rutherford
 darutherford
 Silex
Re: Has anyone applied or received free hoop house from farm bill?    (Posted Mon, Feb 15 '10 at 06:18 UTC)Positive Rank

Here is the link for the NRCS field office locator:

http://www.fl.nrcs.usda.gov/contact/index.html

Hope this helps.

Desiree Rutherford
 growupgreener
 sarasota
Re: Has anyone applied or received free hoop house from farm bill?    (Posted Tue, Feb 16 '10 at 07:11 UTC)

Thanks for all the information. In our four county area here in Florida, a State Conservationist USDA-NRCS (his title) is our point of contact. Some farmers have been told it will be around 50%. Looks like if Feb. 19th is the cut off date, I'd better start filling out some papers!
Once the papers are filled out, is there a waiting period? Does the USDA-NRCS cut the check to you or do they reimburse you?
Do you have to have the paperwork in hand for the hoophouse when you apply?
I have been looking at several, and I am not exactly sure which one I would be happy with!

charlie curbeur
 darutherford
 Silex
Re: Has anyone applied or received free hoop house from farm bill?    (Posted Wed, Feb 17 '10 at 04:11 UTC)Positive Rank

Most NRCS offices were instructed last week on the nitty-gritty details last week - so haven't heard yet on the finer points of the program. Some NRCS offices do have a list of "suggested" retailers who sell high tunnel kits - but that choice is up to the farmer. The project will also cover some of the labor cost to construct the high tunnel also - dollar amount limits to be yet press released.

Hoping today to receive some of those details from our NRCS person here in Missouri - so should have some more information by the end of the day.

Desiree Rutherford
 growupgreener
 sarasota
Re: Has anyone applied or received free hoop house from farm bill?    (Posted Thu, Feb 18 '10 at 12:40 UTC)

Just a follow up question to you regarding your local government overseeing the project, Are they friendly or helpful? Do they make you think you are wasting their time? Do they give you the impression that they really don't care?
Do they think we work for them or the other way around?. This is my second opportunity( or challenge) to work with government, and so far, they give me the impression that they are special, and I should treat them as such!

charlie curbeur
 Old Soul Farmer
 Ann Arbor
Re: Has anyone applied or received free hoop house from farm bill?    (Posted Thu, Feb 18 '10 at 05:45 UTC)Positive Rank

Thanks for the post - I learned of the program last night and called our local NCRS office this morning. They were really helpful. I want to place the hoop house in an area that we just plowed in the fall so it hasn't been planted lately (previously in hay but has been a pasture for about 5 years now). So, I learned today that the hoop house must be placed somewhere that has been in production for at least the previous growing season. So they suggested I apply next year and I'll do that. I the funding program is for 3 years. My impression was that they are really interested in helping and appreciated that I stopped in. Maybe you'll have better experience with a different office.

 growupgreener
 sarasota
Re: Has anyone applied or received free hoop house from farm bill?    (Posted Thu, Feb 18 '10 at 09:18 UTC)

Really glad to hear the post was of help. Anything free or semi free from our government is generally kept pretty quiet.
Between the bugs, weather, customers, four legged critters, disease, and various other distractions, those of us who try to grow, seldom find time for research and many other things. I can say without hestitation that this web site is a wealth of information from all over. Most of us can generally find a little time to check email etc, and this easy to use forum has exceeded my expections! I like the open, short and to the point questions, and answers.
I like the fact that there is very little promotion or selling.
I like to hear that there are other farmers out there who are experiencing the same problems I am. (misery loves company) I like the myriad of answers for what one thinks is a simple question. I like that this forum is a place where a farmeI can vent their frustrations, or show sympathy or support for another farmer.
I like this forum for the farmers that take their time to post and answer questions, like you.
To be fair to the agent, he did email me this afternoon with some additional infomation, and maybe the attitude reflected from his office was one of overwork, budget cuts, downsizing etc.

charlie curbeur
 darutherford
 Silex
Re: Has anyone applied or received free hoop house from farm bill?    (Posted Thu, Feb 18 '10 at 05:21 UTC)Positive Rank

My experiences with USDA, NRCS, FSA and RED, have all been pleasant and have been helpful. Although, in my instance, we've been working closely with several individuals for the past 4 years - as our farm, is in the Beginning Farm Loan program. We were a start up project, and to my knowledge, no other family has been able to accomplish using all aspects of that program in Missouri in the past 20 years. Capital, Operating, and Equipment loans on a start up operation - so we've been blessed with lots of help and advice since our goals were huge. We hope to be a model someday for others who attempt to do this, and today, are willing to share our experiences so other beginning farmers have some of the same opportunities. Presently, I'm working with another individual on the ground work for obtaining some equipment and possible livestock to utilize the program.

Yesterday, I did receive a spec sheet from our NRCS office - so here's a few of the highlights:

1. will cover a portion of the cost the cover crop once the high tunnel is up.
2. will cover a portion of the "Critical planting area" with earthfill.
3. will cover a portion of the grassed waterway around high tunnel for erosion.
4. will cover a portion of the application of nutrient application -compost.
5. High tunnel has to be a kit.
6. It will cover a portion of the labor to erect it.
7. Cannot have any electric or heat connected to the high tunnel.
8. It will not cover a second layer of plastic for the high tunnel.
9. High tunnel must be placed over an area that previously was in production.
10. Required to report to NRCS, yearly for 3 years on a survey for the project.

If you're already keeping records for NOP or CNG, answering a few more questions shouldn't inconvenience anyone. And after the 3 year, the high tunnel is yours to do with as you please.


Desiree Rutherford
 growupgreener
 sarasota
Re: Has anyone applied or received free hoop house from farm bill?    (Posted Thu, Feb 18 '10 at 07:33 UTC)

Good Morning!
Thanks for the great information. I did not recieve any of that, only that the deadline date looks like it will be in March, and maybe extended. Do you happen to receive a list of what they will NOT cover? for instance, hydroponics?

charlie curbeur
 Brandee
 Palmetto
Re: Has anyone applied or received free hoop house from farm bill?    (Posted Fri, Feb 19 '10 at 12:28 UTC)Positive Rank

I would visit your local NRCS office. Florida is part of the high tunnel- hoop house iniative, specifically florida. March 12th is the deadline to sign up. Jack Creighton is the guy you want to speak with about the program.

 growupgreener
 sarasota
Re: Has anyone applied or received free hoop house from farm bill?    (Posted Fri, Feb 19 '10 at 08:04 UTC)

Hi Brandee in Palmetto!
Thanks for the information, I have heard his name mentioned before. Many farming people in our area have said good things about him, and his willingness to help. Itsn't it amazing how many people in florida use this website?
thanks again

charlie curbeur
 Ohiorganic
 Eaton
Re: Has anyone applied or received free hoop house from farm bill?    (Posted Fri, Feb 19 '10 at 04:08 UTC)Positive Rank

growupgreener

they will not cover hydroponics, all crops must be planted in the soil, no pots, benches,etc. You must keep records of yields and sales from crops grown in the hoop house for 3 years and several other requirements.

Lucy Goodman Boulder Belt Eco-Farm Eaton, OH http://boulderbelt.blogspot.com http://www.boulderbeltfarm.com
 growupgreener
 sarasota
Re: Has anyone applied or received free hoop house from farm bill?    (Posted Sat, Feb 20 '10 at 06:11 UTC)

Hello Eaton,
Thats really too bad. We have been trying out the vertical towers outdoors, and I would think we could yield more under plastic! Its amazing how any types of hydroponic systems are not considered in the myriad of federally funded programs.
Some vertical hydroponic growers use amended soil, and others use organic material to grow in, others use coco and perlite. As our population increases and our ag land is gobbled up for development we will have to look at alternatives for growing food. Granted, hydroponics is not a cure all, however, it does have some major advantages for our environment and preserving our dwindling natural resources. It will be great when out of the ground growing is considered in federal programs! Since the name was "3 year pilot project to Verifiy Effectivesness of High Tunnels" I was hoping they would want to measure the difference of crop production grown in or out of high tunnels, and not necessarily what material or device they are grown in. I was hoping we might be in there!
Thanks for taking the time to answer.

charlie curbeur
 Ohiorganic
 Eaton
Re: Has anyone applied or received free hoop house from farm bill?    (Posted Sat, Feb 20 '10 at 02:14 UTC)Positive Rank

Well this hoop house thing i believe is really geared towards more northern growers who want to get into season extension using simple unheated and movable hoop houses. Hydroponics really takes a greenhouse that is a more permanent structure and has electric and heat installed. the USDA wants to see if these simple structures really will increase yields and if the season can be extended 8+ weeks.

I have been using this technology for over 12 years and it dies indeed work, though we use home made houses and not pre fab units

You should bug the USDA and see if you cannot get them to do a pilot program about hydroponics in the future.

Lucy Goodman Boulder Belt Eco-Farm Eaton, OH http://boulderbelt.blogspot.com http://www.boulderbeltfarm.com
 darutherford
 Silex
Re: Has anyone applied or received free hoop house from farm bill?    (Posted Sat, Feb 20 '10 at 05:06 UTC)Positive Rank

Yes, I believe the pilot program is geared to growers in cooler locales. Since, it is to extend the growing season, and when it was first announced, it was going to be offered to 38 states. Since the program is going to be administered by NRCS - it stands to reason that one would have to grow in the ground inside the high tunnel. I do wish they'd allow electric as already utilizing my own high tunnel - I know all too well just how hot it gets in there at the height of the Summer. I think the need for air movement is critical for good production inside during the 100 degree days here in Missouri.

Desiree Rutherford
 growupgreener
 sarasota
Re: Has anyone applied or received free hoop house from farm bill?    (Posted Sun, Feb 21 '10 at 05:45 UTC)

Greetings Silex and Eaton!
Just got back from todays Farmers Market, and it was a pretty good day. Florida was included in the program, most of the state can grow about 9-10 months of the year, depending on the crop. Perhaps you are not familiar with the vertical drip hydroponic units that have been around for almost 20 years. They are high density starfoam boxes stacked on a tower. You can grow up to 20 plants in about 2 square feet. We use no electric except for very small pumps that feed the drip lines.
We grow in them right out in the open, and have experimented with different types of shade cloths, and plastic with a frame on certain sections. Certain times of the year we get pelted with rain, and other times we have horrible wind coming from the gulf. And even though we live in Florida we do have very very cold temps. In fact, a fellow farmer has had 90 day beans in the ground, and they haven't even sprouted yet, the ground is still too cold! I guess because Florida is such a long state we have different growing conditions north to south, and we are divided up into 3 growing regions. A hoophouse or plastic tunnel could help extend and increase our growing season by protecting our crops from the rain, wind, heat, cold temps, may reduce some pest infestation, may reduce the spread of virus or disease in crops, air pollution,and definitely help with cross pollination with some of our heirlooms! I like your thought about bugging the agency! However, when there are approx. 28 rural development programs, about 12 food safety agencies, 342 economic development programs, 72 programs for assuring safe water, over 35 separate employment programs, and 4 overlapping land management agencies in our gov, I really don't think they have time! (humor here)
A canadian friend is trying different colored plastic over a series of small hoop houses. He is thoroughly convinced color affects production, and he just might be right! I do not mean this to be construed as bitter, but our government is not very flexible, and in this day and age, we really need to be, in order to meet with challenges that do not wait on anyone! Like food production!
A program that looks at extending the growing season and increasing crop production that only looks at cold weather, and does not address other uncontrollable influences, has tunnel vison! in my opinion. time to put my feet up!

charlie curbeur
 flyfisherwoman
 Gridley
Re: Has anyone applied or received free hoop house from farm bill?    (Posted Sun, Feb 21 '10 at 06:02 UTC)Positive Rank

Hello: I applied before deadline of January 15, 2010 and had to register our farm through FSA-Farm Service Agency and then fill out the Conservation Program Application through NRCS. I called last week as I had not heard back and was asked several questions such as: Were we going to make our own or purchase ready made hoop houses; what were our plans if it rained and the hoops caused run off of them and caused errosion of the soil and a few other questions. They told me that the agency had just recently found out how much our county, Butte Co in conjunction with 2 other counties in California, /Tehama Co/Glenn Co were going to receive. Then she said my application would be rated along with the other applicants as to meeting the goals of the grant, and then the money would be allocated using that list of rated people. Then she said she estimated I would hear back about whether I would get it or not by April 1st. And she stated it would be a revenue-reimbursement grant. I pay for the cost to buy it, as stated about 70% will be reimbursed at the end of their year after completing some specific findings/statistics and record keeping facts kept by the farmer. That is what I have been told, so still waiting until 4-1-2010.

Windmill Farm of Gridley
 growupgreener
 sarasota
Re: Has anyone applied or received free hoop house from farm bill?    (Posted Sun, Feb 21 '10 at 08:22 UTC)

Good Luck!
It would be interesting to see how many programs and agencies you will have to deal with! I have been told, that government layers new programs on top of old ones, and usually that ends with a lot of duplication.
I think this might be the time to turn all of the federally funded programs back to the state. I never thought I would be so interested in all the government funding, but if we all don't start asking questions and looking for some kind of change, we will continue to be put on lists, and waiting, and giving up and becoming bitter. I believe that all most farmers really want to do is, grow clean, healthy, nutritious, fresh food, that is respectful to our land, without pollution, we don't want to become dependent on other countries for our food, and somewhere in there, make enough money to pay our billsl!.
One gov watch dog group designated the USDA and the NRCS as " not designed for the 21st century" I sincerely hope you will be given an opportunity to get the hoophouse and you will be top on list, and I sincerely hope you will not have to compete with a federally funded or directed non-profit agency, who might be put at the top of the list. cbc

charlie curbeur
 frank33v
 Pepperell
Re: Has anyone applied or received free hoop house from farm bill?    (Posted Tue, Mar 16 '10 at 06:57 UTC)Positive Rank

This information is completely different that what I have been told by my local NCRS office.

I have NOT been told that we will be reimbursed 70% of materials or labor. Just that they will reimburse $4.97/sq ft up to 2178 sq ft. If I build a 2178 hoophouse they will pay for the whole thing. If I build something that is larger and cost more then I pay the difference. If I build something larger than 2178 sqft and it costs less than the total allotment they still fund 2178 x $4.97.

I was told that was the old way NCRS and or FSA did things but now they are shifting to this method of a certain amount per sq ft.

I plan to build something larger and still fall within the allotment for funds.

Can this be different state to state? County to county?

By the way...we found out today that we are approved !

 darutherford
 Silex
Re: Has anyone applied or received free hoop house from farm bill?    (Posted Tue, Mar 16 '10 at 03:18 UTC)Positive Rank

Don't know what state you are in, but in Missouri the amount of allotment per sq. ft. is no where near $4.97.

If you're involved in the beginning farm program, the payment is going to be around $2.24 or a little higher, and those are the highest rates payable.

Double check with your NRCS office, and ask to see that $4.97 in writing.

Desiree Rutherford
 Ohiorganic
 Eaton
Re: Has anyone applied or received free hoop house from farm bill?    (Posted Tue, Mar 16 '10 at 03:55 UTC)Positive Rank

It seems it is different depending on what state you are in. For example in Kansas you have to be certified organic to get the grant but this does not seem to be true in any other state.

Lucy Goodman Boulder Belt Eco-Farm Eaton, OH http://boulderbelt.blogspot.com http://www.boulderbeltfarm.com
 frank33v
 Pepperell
Re: Has anyone applied or received free hoop house from farm bill?    (Posted Thu, Mar 18 '10 at 05:23 UTC)Positive Rank

I now have a signed contract showing the 4.97/sq ft. Being in the new farmer category gave a little more funding, but even without that the funding was going to be a little more than $4/sq ft.

This is my first time dealing with any sort of grant program/gov't entity so I hope I get reimbursed!

I am getting a 21' x 120' with installation. Should be up by mid April !

 darutherford
 Silex
Re: Has anyone applied or received free hoop house from farm bill?    (Posted Thu, Mar 18 '10 at 04:44 UTC)Positive Rank

KS - there are different tiers for the program - organic, transitional, conventional. Your NRCS office may not be up on the rules - and the rules are changing almost every day.

Last rule change I know of: instead of funding at the end of year, the program will fund as soon as you have the high tunnel erected and approved by the NRCS.

Also, the rules went to 3 year contract on the high tunnel with NRCS and now it is 4 years.

Today, I'll be making the final decision as to whether or not we're going to participate. Reminder: the deadline for MO is March 19, 2010.

Desiree Rutherford
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