USDA-NRCS In Georgia Announces Sign-ups for Urban and Small Farm Conservation and Conservation Incentives Contracts
NRCS in Georgia announces a ranking date of Feb. 3, 2023, for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program’s Urban and Small Farm Agriculture Initiative and Conservation Incentives Contracts.
Release No.: 04.23
ATHENS, GEORGIA, Jan. 6, 2023 – State Conservationist, Terrance O. Rudolph, of U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) announced today, two additional sign-ups through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program’s (EQIP) Urban and Small Farm Agriculture Initiative, and Conservation Incentives Contracts.
These additional opportunities will help agricultural producers in eligible urban areas (see below for full list of counties) of Georgia make best use of their natural resources, where agricultural production is often limited by competing land uses and higher costs of utilization. Conservation Incentive Contracts are an option available statewide through EQIP that offers producers financial assistance to adopt conservation management practices on working landscapes.
“Producers have shown that they know their land best and are committed to playing key role in building climate resiliency,” said Rudolph. “These targeted EQIP sign-ups allow NRCS to join them in the fight to build a better tomorrow for all of our customers and communities.”
EQIP - Urban and Small Farm Agriculture
Urban and small farm agriculture includes the cultivation, processing, and distribution of agricultural products in urban and suburban areas. This targeted sign-up is for producers who operate farms in Barrow, Bibb, Butts, Chatham, Clarke, Clayton, Cobb, Columbia, Dekalb, Dougherty, Douglas, Fayette, Fulton, Gwinnett, Henry, Lowndes, Muscogee, Paulding, Richmond, Rockdale, and Spalding counties.
Urban and small farmers provide critical access to healthy food for local communities, as well as jobs, increased green spaces, and closer community ties. While this sign-up is limited in scope, NRCS is looking to expand urban agriculture and small farm conservation to other areas of Georgia in the future. For these type of operations and this particular sign-up, NRCS offers technical and financial assistance with conservation practices, such as Amending soil properties with lime; Brush management; Conservation cover; Conservation crop rotation; Cover crop; Critical area planting; Fence; Field border; Heavy use area protection; Herbaceous weed control; High tunnel system; Irrigation pipeline; irrigation reservoir; irrigation system, micro; Irrigation water management; Livestock pipeline; Low tunnel system; Mulching; Nutrient management; Pasture and hay planting; Prescribed grazing; Pumping plant; Raised bed; Residue and tillage management – no-till / strip-till direct seed; Residue and tillage management – reduced tillage; Soil carbon amendment; Sprinkler system; Tree / shrub establishment; Tree / shrub pruning; Tree / shrub site preparation; Water well; Watering facility; Wildlife habitat planting; and Windbreak / shelterbelt establishment.
EQIP - Conservation Incentive Contracts
Conservation Incentive Contracts address priority resource concerns, including sequestering carbon and improving soil health in high-priority areas. Through these five- year contracts, NRCS works with producers to strengthen the quality and condition of natural resources on their Georgia based operations using management practices such as Conservation crop rotation; Residue and tillage management, no-till; Prescribed burning; Cover crop; Residue and tillage management, reduced till; Prescribed grazing; Nutrient management; Early successional habitat development – management; and Annual forages for grazing systems.
The 2018 Farm Bill created the new Conservation Incentive Contract option, and it was piloted in 2021 in four states, including Georgia. Now a nationwide effort, Conservation Incentive Contracts offer producers annual incentive payments to implement management practices as well as conservation evaluation and monitoring activities to help manage, maintain, and improve priority natural resource concerns within a state’s high-priority areas and build on existing conservation efforts. Download our Georgia Conservation Incentive Contracts Fact Sheet for more information.
How to Apply
NRCS accepts applications for conservation programs year-round, but to be included in this funding batch, interested producers should contact their local USDA Service Center and apply by Feb. 3, 2023.
Through conservation programs, NRCS provides technical and financial assistance to help producers and landowners make conservation improvements on their land that benefit natural resources, build resiliency, and contribute to the nation’s broader effort to combat the impacts of climate change. More broadly, these efforts build on others across USDA to encourage use of conservation practices.
USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov.