The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) is again available for farmers and agricultural producers on the Qualla Boundary. While the EQIP has a continuous sign up, all landowners interested in assistance must have an active conservation plan in order for their application to be considered for funding. The sign up deadline for plan development assistance for 2012 EQIP funds is Sept. 16.
This USDA program offers financial and technical assistance to eligible farmers and agricultural landowners, including those with woodland tracts, to install certain conservation practices on land they own or operate. These Best Management Practices (BMPs) are designed to protect and sustain the natural resource base on the farm. There are many BMPs available to address soil quality, water quality, pasture and hay land management and even wildlife habitat on the farm.
In recent years, several parcel holders have completed projects which involved the repair of agricultural use roads in Jackson and Swain counties. Such roads can be a major source of erosion and sedimentation on the farm. Such roads may include access to barns, pastures, or other fields. Woodland access roads also qualify.
Other qualifying practices include: seeding and stabilization of critically eroded areas, livestock watering tanks, livestock travel lanes, heavy-use area protection around barns and feeding areas, fencing, pasture management, wildlife habitat enhancement, and stream bank restoration.
Woodland practices including invasive species management, timber stand improvement, and erosion control are available for timber producers who have a current timber management plan. Crop land conservation practices are also available.
While the EQIP has a continuous sign up, there will only be one batching deadline for 2012 funding. Parcel holders are encouraged to sign up early. Applications are ranked according to resource concerns identified in their conservation plan.
For more information or if you are interested in signing up, contact John McCoy at 497-1858, the USDA Service Center in Bryson City at (828)488-3785 ext.3, the Jackson Soil and Water Conservation District at (828)586-6344, or the Graham Soil and Water Conservation District at (828)479-9268.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits discrimination in all its programs and activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, or marital or family status. (Not all prohibited bases apply to all programs.) Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication of program information (Braille, large print, audiotape, etc.) should contact USDA’s TARGET Center at (202)720-5964 (voice and TDD).
– John McCoy