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Farm Bill Programs
The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the Chippewa/Luce/Mackinac Conservation District partner together to bring a number of conservation programs to landowners in our district.
NRCS's natural resources conservation programs help people reduce soil erosion, enhance water supplies, improve water quality, increase wildlife habitat, and reduce damages caused by floods and other natural disasters. Public benefits include enhanced natural resources that help sustain agricultural productivity and environmental quality while supporting continued economic development, recreation, and scenic beauty.
The Michigan Association of Conservation Districts in partnership with the Natural Resource Conservation Service, Farm Service Agency and Michigan Farm Bureau, have developed a 2008 Farm Bill resource booklet to provide landowners with understanding of 2008 Farm Bill's conservation programs. This booklet provides landowners with an overview of the opportunities available under the 2008 Farm Bill and resources available. We encourage you to work through this booklet and the program overview resources below and to contact your local Conservation District for further information. The programs available through the 2008 Farm Bill provide significant opportunities and it is up to each individual, with assistance from local USDA or Conservation District employees, to determine how these programs can benefit their operation. Click here to review the 2008 Farm Bill booklet.
Natural Resources Conservation Service Staff
NRCS staff share office space with CLMCD in the Sault Ste. Marie which provides convenient access to the variety of programs offered by the two agencies.
Phone: 906-632-9611 Ext. 110
Soil Conservation Technician
Phone: 906-632-9611 Ext. 120
If you are interested in implementing conservation practices on your property, please contact the Chippewa/Luce/Mackinac Conservation District at 906-635-1278 or NRCS at 906-632-9611 for more information.
CLMCD - Conservation Technical Assistance Initiative (CTAI) Engineer
CLMCD in partnership with the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) maintains a grant to hire a environmental engineer to assist NRCS with Farm Bill Programs engineering assistance. Assistance in Sault Ste Marie is coordinated through the Area office in Marquette by Area Engineer Amy Bastone and Aubrey Proctor acts as the local CTAI engineer in Sault Ste Marie.
SUMMARY OF AVAILABLE PROGRAMS
Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP)
The Wetlands Reserve Program is a voluntary program offering landowners the opportunity to protect, restore, and enhance wetlands on their property. The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) provides technical and financial support to help landowners with their wetland restoration efforts. The NRCS goal is to achieve the greatest wetland functions and values, along with optimum wildlife habitat, on every acre enrolled in the program. This program offers landowners an opportunity to establish long-term conservation and wildlife practices and protection.
Conservation Reserve Program (CRP)
The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) provides technical and financial assistance to eligible farmers and ranchers to address soil, water, and related natural resource concerns on their lands in an environmentally beneficial and cost-effective manner. The program provides assistance to farmers and ranchers in complying with Federal, State, and tribal environmental laws, and encourages environmental enhancement. The program is funded through the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC). CRP is administered by the Farm Service Agency, with NRCS providing technical land eligibility determinations, conservation planning and practice implementation.
The Conservation Reserve Program reduces soil erosion, protects the Nation's ability to produce food and fiber, reduces sedimentation in streams and lakes, improves water quality, establishes wildlife habitat, and enhances forest and wetland resources. It encourages farmers to convert highly erodible cropland or other environmentally sensitive acreage to vegetative cover, such as tame or native grasses, wildlife plantings, trees, filterstrips, or riparian buffers. Farmers receive an annual rental payment for the term of the multi-year contract. Cost sharing is provided to establish the vegetative cover practices.
Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP)
The Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP) is a voluntary program for conservation-minded landowners who want to develop and improve wildlife habitat on agricultural land, nonindustrial private forest land, and Indian land.
The Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 reauthorized WHIP as a voluntary approach to improving wildlife habitat in our Nation. The Natural Resources Conservation Service administers WHIP to provide both technical assistance and up to 75 percent cost-share assistance to establish and improve fish and wildlife habitat. WHIP cost-share agreements between NRCS and the participant generally last from one year after the last conservation practice is implemented but not more than 10 years from the date the agreement is signed.
In order to provide direction to the State and local levels for implementing WHIP to achieve its objective, NRCS has established the following national priorities:
- Promote the restoration of declining or important native fish and wildlife habitats;
- Protect, restore, develop or enhance fish and wildlife habitat to benefit at-risk species;
- Reduce the impacts of invasive species on fish and wildlife habitats; and,
- Protect, restore, develop or enhance declining or important aquatic wildlife species' habitats
Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)
The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) was reauthorized in the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 (Farm Bill) to provide a voluntary conservation program for farmers and ranchers that promotes agricultural production and environmental quality as compatible national goals. EQIP offers financial and technical help to assist eligible participants install or implement structural and management practices on eligible agricultural land.
EQIP offers contracts with a minimum term that ends one year after the implementation of the last scheduled practices and a maximum term of ten years. These contracts provide financial assistance to implement conservation practices. Owners of land in agricultural production or persons who are engaged in livestock or agricultural production on eligible land may participate in the EQIP program. Program practices and activities are carried out according to an EQIP program plan of operations developed in conjunction with the producer that identifies the appropriate conservation practice or measures needed to address the resource concerns. The practices are subject to NRCS technical standards adapted for local conditions.
EQIP provides payments up to 75 percent of the incurred costs and income foregone of certain conservation practices and activities. However certain historically underserved producers (Limited resource farmers/ranchers, beginning farmers/ranchers, socially disadvantaged producers) may be eligible for payments up to 90 percent of the estimated incurred costs and income foregone. Farmers and ranchers may elect to use a certified Technical Service Provider (TSP) for technical assistance needed for certain eligible activities and services. The new Farm Bill established a new payment limitation for individuals or legal entity participants who may not receive, directly or indirectly, payments that, in the aggregate, exceed $300,000 for all program contracts entered during any six year period. Projects determined as having special environmental significance may, with approval of the NRCS Chief, have the payment limitation raised to a maximum of $450,000.
Conservation Security Program (CSP)
CSP 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. 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 is available in all 50 States, the Caribbean Area and the Pacific Basin area. The program provides equitable access to benefits to all producers, regardless of size of operation, crops produced, or geographic location.
The Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 (2002 Farm Bill) (Pub. L. 107-171) amended the Food Security Act of 1985 to authorize the program. CSP is administered by USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).
Grassland Reserve Program (GRP)
The Grassland Reserve Program (GRP) is a voluntary conservation program that emphasizes support for working grazing operations, enhancement of plant and animal biodiversity, and protection of grassland under threat of conversion to other uses.
Participants voluntarily limit future development and cropping uses of the land while retaining the right to conduct common grazing practices and operations related to the production of forage and seeding, subject to certain restrictions during nesting seasons of bird species that are in significant decline or are protected under Federal or State law. A grazing management plan is required for participants.