Tennessee landowners are eligible to sign-up now for 2009 USDA conservation programs
Posted: Tuesday, March 3, 2009 8:01 pm
The USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Tennessee is announcing that agricultural producers who want to receive 2009 funding in the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) or the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP) should do so by March 30.
Sign up for both programs is year round, but applications receiving 2009 fiscal year funding must be received by March. Only those applications that can be “prepared to implement” before May 15 will actually compete for funding. There are, however, a suite of high priority practices that will be funded continuously throughout the year as long as funds are available. These practices will be funded in the beginning farm, socially disadvantaged farmer and priority practice fund code.
EQIP is a voluntary conservation program for agricultural producers that promotes agricultural production and environmental quality as compatible national goals while addressing natural resource concerns. EQIP offers financial and technical help to assist eligible participants install or implement structural and/or management practices on eligible agricultural land. WHIP is a voluntary program which encourages creation of high quality wildlife habitats. Through WHIP cost sharing, landowners work with NRCS to develop or enhance upland, wetland, riparian and aquatic habitat areas on their property.
“In many ways, these conservation programs act as a mini-stimulus,” said Kevin Brown, Tennessee NRCS state conservationist. “When landowners take part in conservation cost share programs, the funds infuse the community and the initial investment rolls over several times, benefiting the whole area.” The funds from both EQIP and WHIP help farmers improve the natural resources on private working lands in Tennessee. Conservation practices help the environment while also making the land more productive by addressing issues like water quantity, water and air quality, wildlife habitat and treatment of specific invasive species.
Applications that are ready to implement on April 15 will be ranked by that date. Another batch of applications ready to implement will be funded beginning May 15. A conservation planner will develop a conservation plan that includes practices, engineering designs and program for each contract before any contract is approved. Producers who have been awarded contracts can then begin implementing the approved conservation practices this year. Local NRCS field offices have complete details for their county.
Additional information and access to ranking criteria, practices and cost share rates for EQIP and WHIP can be found at www.tn.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/.
Published in The Messenger 3.3.09
Natural Resources Conservation Service