Conservationist: NRCS programs crucial

Published 11:55 pm Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Local producers looking to implement conservation practices can apply now for funding for several different federal programs, which is crucial to local conservation.

n1603p23011cUSDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) State Conservationist for Alabama Ben Moore announced this week that the Oct. 21, is the signup batching date for producers for 2017 funding.

There are several programs for which money is available.

  • Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), which includes energy retrofits, wildlife, forestry, cropland erosion, cropland irrigation, grazing land, and water quality concerns. There are national landscape initiatives included in the EQIP funding. They include: gopher tortoise habitat improvement and a longleaf pine initiative.
  • Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP), which includes irrigation reservoirs and efficiency improvements in Alabama.
  • Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP)
  • Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) which has two option. First, agricultural land easement which includes the farm and ranchland protection program and grassland reserve program, and second, wetland reserve easements which is for open land that has wet soils and was drained.

Applications are accepted on a continuous basis; however, selecting application for funding is completed periodically through batching period with specific cutoff dates.

In EQIP programs, eligible producers may receive a payment based on the statewide average cost of the installation of the conservation practice.

NRCS District Conservationist Josh Elliott said these programs are important locally for many reasons.

“In 2016, the Covington County Conservation District brought in $600,000 through these programs that went directly to farmers in Covington County to implement conservation practices on their land,” he said. “Most of these funds were met with a 25 percent match bringing the total economic impact to over $750,000 in Covington County alone.”

Elliott said these program are vital in helping to keep local lands healthy and productive by providing an avenue for voluntary, incentive-based conservation.

For more information about these programs can contact the NRCS office at 222-3519, ext. 3.