EQIP - Environmental Quality Incentives Program
The purpose of the EQIP program is to install and maintain conservation practices that sustain food and fiber production while enhancing soil, water and related natural resources and energy conservation. Eligible land includes confined livestock feeding operations, crop, range and pastureland and nonindustrial private forestland that is not under a CRP contract. Offers are scored according to specific practices to be implemented, and are ranked once per year. Includes planning for organic production, forest, wildlife, wetland, grazing, nutrient, air quality, invasive species, residue, animal carcass, pest, pollinator, and fuels management and energy production. Some practices are ranked competitively within the county while other practices may be ranked competitively statewide. The program provides 75% cost share on most contracts for implemented practices. Higher cost-share (up to 90%) may be available to beginning, limited resource or socially disadvantaged farmers. The contract length can be from 1 to 10 years; the minimum length is one year after a practice has been implemented. Practices beneficial to wildlife are exclusion or limited access of livestock to streams, streambank stabilization, wildlife field borders, and conversion of cropland or exotic pasture grasses to native warm season grasses for forage or strictly for wildlife cover, and management of forestlands for at-risk wildlife species.
The contract length is a minimum of 1 year after implementation of the last scheduled practice, maximum of 10 years. The program provides an overall payment limitation of $300,000 per individual, regardless of the number of farms or contracts, over 6 years, with possible wavier to $450,000.
For more information, visit http://www.tn.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/eqip2011/index.html
WHIP - Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program
The purpose of the WHIP program is to help landowners or lessees develop and improve wildlife habitat on tribal lands, private agricultural land, and nonindustrial private forest lands not currently enrolled in another USDA conservation program. Provides 75% cost share for selected practices to develop, enhance and maintain good wildlife habitat under 1 to 10-year contracts/management plans. The maximum annual contract payment is $50,000. The program encourages creation or restoration of high quality habitats to support diverse wildlife populations. Priority is on habitats benefiting wildlife species in decline, such as bobwhite quail, cottontail rabbits, and shrub and grassland songbirds, but most habitats and management practices benefit common game species also. Major practices include eradication of fescue and sericea lespedeza and conversion to native grasses, forbs and legumes, and establishing woody or other escape cover where needed. Approved management practices include prescribed burning, strip disking, and herbiciding. Offers are scored and ranked against other offers in the state according to wildlife benefits of practices implemented and other criteria. Highest scoring offers are accepted on a periodic basis as money becomes available.
For more information, visit http://www.tn.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/WHIP_2011/index.html
CRP - Conservation Reserve Program General Signup
This program takes highly erodible and other environmentally sensitive lands out of crop production and establishes a soil-conserving vegetative cover on them under a 10-year contract. Periodic signup periods are announced by USDA when applicants can offer whole-field enrollments. Applications are scored and ranked against other applications from across the country. USDA later announces the minimum score that will be accepted for enrollment under contracts. Options most beneficial to wildlife, such as CP2 Native Grasses and CP4D Permanent Wildlife Habitat offer potential for higher scores and greater likelihood of offer acceptance. In the CRP, the participant receives an annual payment during the term of the contract in addition to 50% cost-share for cover establishment and required management. Contact your local Farm Services Agency office regarding eligibility and details. The standard 50% cost-share for cover establishment, annual maintenance and rental payments is limited to a maximum of $50,000.
For more information, visit http://www.tn.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/CRP/CRP.html
CCRP - Conservation Reserve Program Continuous Signup
This portion of the Conservation Reserve Program includes the most environmentally beneficial, small acreage or buffer (strip) practices. Unlike the General Signup, a landowner can apply at any time and if the landowner is eligible and the land being offered meets the criteria for a specific practice, the offer will be automatically accepted by USDA. In addition, some of the practices qualify for an annual payment that is 20% higher than the same land offered under the General Signup practices, plus qualify for an up-front Signing Incentive Payment (SIP) of $100 per acre for a 10-year contract or $150 per acre for a 15-year contract, plus an additional Payment Incentive Practice (PIP) of 40% of the cover establishment cost. CCRP practices in Tennessee include:
- CP8A Grass Waterway1,2
- CP9 Shallow Water Areas For Wildlife
- CP15 Contour Grass Strips
- CP21 Filter Strips1,2
- CP22 Riparian Forest Buffer1,2
- CP23 Wetlands Restoration1,2
- CP23A Wetlands Restoration, Non-floodplain1,2
- CP27 Farmable Wetlands2
- CP28 Farmable Wetland Buffers2
- CP29 Marginal Pastureland Wildlife Habitat Buffers1,2
- CP30 Marginal Pastureland Wetland Buffer 1,2
- CP31 Bottomland Timber Establishment on Wetlands1,2
- CP33 Habitat Buffers For Upland Birds2
- CP38B SAFE Wetlands For Wildlife - Shallow Water Areas2
- CP38B SAFE Wetlands For Wildlife - Wetland Restoration2
- CP38B SAFE Wetlands For Wildlife - Wetland Restoration, Nonfloodplain2
- CP38C SAFE Bottomland Hardwoods2
- CP38E SAFE Bobwhite Habitat Restoration2
1 = 20% higher annual payment / 2= SIP and PIP payments/ 3= PIP only
For more information, visit http://www.tn.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/CRP/CRP.html
GRP - Grassland Reserve Program
The purpose of the Grassland Reserve Program is to maintain healthy grazing lands and protect them from development. Eligible land can be restored or restorable, improved, or natural grass, range, pastureland, or prairie for which grazing is the predominate use, or contains historic or archeological resources or addresses State, regional or national conservation priorities. Agreements can be 10, 15 or 20 year rental contracts, or permanent easements. Payment on rental contracts equals 75% of grazing value, and payments are limited to $50,000 per person or legal entity per year. Permanent easements are purchased at the fair market value, minus the grazing value. Restoration agreements provide up to 50% of the cost not to exceed $50,000/person or entity/year.
For more information, visit http://www.tn.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/GRP/grp-index.html
WRP - Wetland Reserve Program
The goal of this program is to restore wetlands on private or tribal property through the acquisition of conservation easements or agreements. Eligible lands include agricultural lands with restorable wetlands that include prior converted wetlands, farmed wetlands, or farmed wetland pastures, or wooded wetlands that have been drained and hydrology can be restored. The land had to have been owned for a minimum of 7 years by the applicant. The landowner has three options:
- A 10-year Restoration Agreement, under which the landowner receives payment for 75% of restoration costs; no easement is placed on the property but payments are limited to $50,000 annually.
- A 30-year Easement, under which the landowner receives 75% of restoration costs plus the lower of 1) 75% of the appraised value of the property based on federal land acquisition rules, or 2) 75% of an amount offered by the landowner, or 3) 100% of the county geographic rate cap.
- A Permanent Easement, under which the landowner receives 100% of restoration costs plus the lower of 100% of 1) the appraised value of the property based on federal land acquisition rules, 2) the amount offered by the landowner, or 3) the county geographic rate cap.
The landowner controls access, non-developed recreational activities (hunting, fishing) and the right to lease recreational uses for financial gain. Other uses must be approved.
In Tennessee, wetland restoration will consist primarily of restoring bottomland hardwoods and reversing all in-field drainage systems currently in existence. A Wetland Reserve Plan of Operations will be developed scheduling conservation practices installation, cost share to be provided for essential practices, and practices necessary to manage and maintain the wetlands. Up to 30% of the easement area may be left open and established to different habitat types such as shallow water areas for waterfowl, native grass plantings, and up to 5% in food plots. Easement payments may be made as lump sum or from 5 to 30 annual payments through the Commodity Credit Corporation.
For more information, visit http://www.tn.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/WRP/wrp-index.html
CSP - Conservation Stewardship Program
The Conservation Stewardship Program is a voluntary program that provides financial and technical assistance to promote the conservation and improvement of soil, water, air, energy, plant and animal life, and other conservation purposes on Tribal and private working lands not currently enrolled in CRP, WRP, and GRP. Working lands include cropland, grassland, prairie land, improved pasture, and range land, as well as forested land that is an incidental part of an agriculture operation. The program provides equitable access to benefits to all producers, regardless of size of operation, crops produced or geographic location. Applications are ranked on present and proposed conservation activities, number and extent of resource concerns addressed and cost effectiveness of expected environmental benefits. Applicants must account for stewardship operations covering their entire agricultural operation. Wildlife is a resource concern that can be addressed in CSP practices and enhancements. The program payment cap is $200,000/5 years/person or legal entity.
For more information, visit http://www.tn.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/CSP/csp-index.html
The above information was obtained from The Tennessee Department of Agriculture and The Natural Resources Conservation Service