Federal financial assistance available for farmers and woodland owners

Published 5:35 pm Tuesday, August 31, 2021

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AHOSKIE – Farmers and woodland owners who want to take advantage of the latest round of conservation assistance available from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service have until October 29 to apply.

Financial and technical assistance is available through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), which provided approximately $26 million to eligible North Carolina farmers, ranchers, forest landowners and private landowners in the federal government’s latest fiscal year.

EQIP is a voluntary conservation program that promotes agricultural production and environmental quality. It supports forestry practices that include tree planting, site preparation to plant trees after harvest, timber stand improvement such as prescribed burns, pre-commercial thinning of overcrowded pine stands, and wildlife habitat improvement practices. It also offers assistance to address natural resource concerns and deliver environmental benefits such as improved water and air quality, conserved ground and surface water and increased soil health.

Eligible land includes cropland, pastureland and non-industrial private forestland. In North Carolina, EQIP will pay approximately 75 percent of the cost to implement conservation practices for eligible producers, and up to 90 percent of the cost for historically underserved farmers, beginning and limited resource, American Indian tribes and veterans.

Alton Perry, director of the Sustainable Forestry and Land Retention Project that partners with the NRCS in northeastern North Carolina, encouraged the region’s woodland owners to contact him if they have questions about the assistance opportunity or the management of their forestland.

“EQIP is a highly beneficial program that has proven its value,” Perry said. “It is important that farmers and forest landowners know there is technical and financial assistance available to them. I hope that woodland owners considering ways to enhance their property will pursue this assistance opportunity and be mindful of the October 29th application deadline.”

NRCS accepts EQIP applications year-round but makes funding selections at specific times throughout the year. NRCS is encouraging producers and private landowners to submit their applications as soon as possible because funding is limited.

“NRCS works hard to help eligible farmers and private landowners plan and carry out conservation practices that can benefit all North Carolina’s residents by providing clean air and water, healthy and productive forests, and healthy soils,” said Timothy Beard, state conservationist for NRCS in North Carolina. “EQIP provides crucial funding to help producers carry out these practices on their agricultural land.”

SFLRP is operated through Roanoke Electric Cooperative’s nonprofit subsidiary, The Roanoke Center. The center offers a range of education, application and financial assistance to forest landowners throughout the co-op’s seven-county service territory. Perry can be reached at 252539-4614 or aperry@roanokeelectric.com.

More information about financial and technical assistance available to help North Carolina farmers and other landowners improve and protect their land can be found at www.nc.nrcs.usda.gov.