NASHVILLE, December 18, 2018– Producers in Tennessee who are interested in implementing conservation practices to improve natural resources on their farmland have until Friday, January 18, 2019 to submit their application for financial assistance through the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).
“We accept applications for this program on a continuous basis, however, only the applications received by January 18th will be considered for funding this fiscal year,” said Sheldon Hightower, NRCS Tennessee State Conservationist. “EQIP places a priority on water quality, water conservation, and promotes soil health practices by offering financial and technical assistance to address these resource concerns on eligible agricultural land.”
EQIP will be offering funding for High Tunnel and On-Farm Energy initiatives for this signup in addition to traditional funding opportunities. EQIP is an incentives-based program that provides technical and financial assistance for conservation systems such as animal waste management facilities, irrigation system efficiency improvements, fencing, and water supply development for improved grazing management, riparian protection, wildlife habitat enhancement, and cover crops for soil resource protection.
Applications can be taken at all Tennessee NRCS county offices and USDA Service Centers. To locate an office near you, please click on this link: USDA Service Center. Applications MUST be received in your local Service Center by 3:30 p.m. on Friday, January 18, 2019.
NRCS continually strives to put conservation planning at the forefront of its programs and initiatives. Conservation plans provide landowners with a comprehensive inventory and assessment of their resources and an appropriate start to improving the quality of soil, water, air, plants, and wildlife on their land.
Conservation planning services can also be obtained through a Technical Service Provider (TSP) who will develop a Conservation Activity Plan (CAP) to identify conservation practices needed to address a specific natural resource need. Typically, these plans are specific to certain kinds of land use, such as transitioning to organic operations, grazing land, or forest land. CAPs can also address a specific resource need, such as a plan for management of nutrients. Although not required, producers who first develop a CAP for their land use, may use this information in applying for future implementation contracts.
To find out more about EQIP, fill out the eligibility forms, or obtain an application, contact Shelbyville Field Office @ 931-684-1441 ext. 3.
NASHVILLE, Nov. 17, 2017 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) encourages people and groups wanting to protect critical wetlands, agricultural lands and grasslands to consider enrolling their property into conservation easements. This year, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) plans to invest $250 million in technical and financial assistance to help private landowners, tribes, land trusts, and other groups protect these valuable lands.
The Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) focuses on restoring and protecting wetlands as well as conserving productive agricultural lands and grasslands. Landowners are compensated for enrolling their land in easements.
“Protecting these lands preserves Tennessee’s heritage, natural resources and open space,” said Kevin Brown, NRCS State Conservationist in Tennessee. “Easements are also important tools for people who are trying to improve the management of their land.”
Applications for ACEP are taken on a continuous basis, and they are ranked and considered for funding several times per year.
The 2014 Farm Bill created ACEP, merging together several easement programs into one. In the last year, easements have protected 1,130 acres in the state and nearly 300,000 acres nationwide.
Wetland Reserve Easements
Through ACEP wetland reserve easements, NRCS helps landowners and tribes restore and protect wetland ecosystems. Wetlands are one of nature’s most productive ecosystems providing many ecological, societal and economic benefits.
“Seventy-five percent of the nation's wetlands are situated on private and tribal lands,” Brown said. “Wetlands provide many benefits, including critical habitat for a wide array of wildlife species. They also store floodwaters, clean and recharge groundwater, sequester carbon, trap sediment, and filter pollutants for clean water.”
Wetland conservation easements are either permanent or for 30 years. Eligible lands include farmed or converted wetlands that can successfully be restored, croplands or grasslands subject to flooding, and riparian areas that link protected wetland areas. As part of the easement, NRCS and the landowner work together to develop a plan for the restoration and maintenance of the wetland.
Agricultural Land Easements
Through ACEP agricultural land easements, NRCS provides funds to conservation partners to purchase conservation easements on private working lands. This program helps keep working lands working, especially in areas experiencing development pressure.
Partners include state or local agencies, non-profits and tribes. Landowners continue to own their property but voluntarily enter into a legal agreement with a cooperating entity to purchase an easement. The cooperating entity applies for matching funds from NRCS for the purchase of an easement from the landowner, permanently protecting its agricultural use and conservation values. Landowners do not apply directly to NRCS for funding under this program.
Easements are permanent. Eligible lands include privately owned cropland, rangeland, grassland, pastureland, and forestlands.