For agricultural land and non-industrial private forestland producers interested in applying for farm bill conservation program financial assistance in Fiscal Year 2014, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Tennessee has set the deadline to apply for EQIP/WHIP as December 20th.
The application deadline applies to the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and EQIP National Initiatives and the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP) and WHIP National Initiatives.
EQIP, one of NRCS’s largest conservation programs, helps eligible producers plan and implement conservation practices that provide opportunities to improve soil, water, plant, animal, energy, air and related resources on agricultural land and non-industrial private forestland. The funds from both EQIP and WHIP help farmers improve the natural resources and make the land more productive on private working lands in Tennessee.
The Knox County Soil Conservation District (SCD) and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Knoxville Field Office are working in partnership to help agricultural producers in Knox County improve water quality by reducing soil erosion and pathogen loading into area streams and rivers. With cost-share funding provided by the Tennessee Department of Agriculture (TDA) and the United States Department of Agriculture, Knox County SCD and NRCS have infused over $125,000 into Knox County’s economy between July 1, 2011 and June 30, 2012. These funds turn over 6-7 times locally, helping to stimulate our County’s economy to the tune of over a half million dollars in FY12 alone.
Here are some photos of recently installed Ag BMPs on Knox County farms:
Before & After photos of Exclusion Fencing along a creek
Before & After photos of a Heavy Use Area Protection Pad
Before & After photos of a Stream Access point
Before & After photos of a watering trough
Before & After photos of a Streambank Stabilization Project
Landowners in any County can apply for cost-share funding. There are a host of programs, both federal and state, that provide cost share funds for Ag BMPs. EQIP, the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, is the most commonly applied for federally funded program. It, like all other programs, is a reimbursement program, meaning that the landowner pays for the installation of the Ag BMPs up front, and NRCS reimburses the landowner after NRCS personnel ensure that the BMP was installed correctly. The reimbursement rate for this program is 75% cost share. That DOES NOT mean that the landowner willnecessarily receive 75% of his or her actual costs for installing a BMP. What it does mean is that the landowner will receive 75% of the statewide average cost of installing a BMP. It may cost $3500 on average to install a watering facility in Knox County, for example, while in Hawkins County it may cost closer to $2000 on average. NRCS takes the average cost of installing a watering facility over all 95 Tennessee counties and sets a “payment rate” for that practice each year. NRCS will reimburse a landowner up to this amount for installing that practice. These practices & associated rates are listed in NRCS’s “Payment Schedule”. NRCS publishes a new Payment Schedule each year to adjust for inflation and other variables. This way, we can tell a landowner exactly how much they will get paid for installing a practice, before they install it.
TDA uses this payment schedule as well for their cost share programs. TDA’s most commonly used program is the Agricultural Resources Conservation Fund (ARCF). Your District has to apply each year for funding from this program. The State Soil Conservation Committee is a TDA committee and directs a set amount of funds each year to each District who applies for ARCF funds. This is where your Board of Supervisors comes in. Your Board of Supervisors is responsible for thendirecting those funds to landowners in your County.
Depending on your situation, the Conservationist(s) will direct you to apply for one or more programs to increase your chances of getting your conservation plan funded with cost-share dollars. We walk you through the entire process to ensure your success. Please don't hesitate to call us with any questions you may have about our programs.
These websites will offer more information on most of our cost-share programs:
Tennessee NRCS website: http://www.tn.nrcs.usda.gov/
Tennessee Department of Agriculture website: http://www.tn.gov/agriculture/water/arcf.shtml