Air Quality Initiative Announced in Four AL Counties

Randall Weiseman Alabama, USDA-NRCS

Alabama’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), has announced a new Air Quality Initiative for Alabama under the fiscal year 2009 Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).

The EQIP Air Quality Initiative provides both technical and financial assistance to farmers interested in improving the air quality of their operation. The financial assistance can include practice payments for installation of certain conservation practices.

The Clean Air Act requires the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to set National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for pollutants considered harmful to public health and the environment. NRCS will offer up to $188,000 in fiscal year 2009 for participants to implement practices that control emissions that contribute to harmful particulate matter (PM-2.5) in the following counties: Jackson, Jefferson, Shelby, and Walker. According to EPA, air quality in these counties currently exceeds NAAQS for PM-2.5.

NRCS has identified the following priority Field Office Technical Guide (FOTG) conservation practices and activities for the 2009 Alabama EQIP Air Quality Initiative: Residue Management (No Till); Conservation Crop Rotation; Strip Cropping; Conversion of Cropland to Pasture, Hay or Forestland; Waste Storage Facilities; Closure of Waste Impoundments; Waste Field Storage; Amendments for Treatment of Agricultural Waste; Nutrient Management; Prescribed Grazing; Fencing (cross fence only); Critical Area Planting; Grassed Waterways; Hedgerow Planting; Roof Runoff Management; Prescribed Burning; Mulching; and Heavy Use Area Protection.

Applications are accepted by local NRCS offices on a continuous basis throughout the year to evaluate, rank, prioritize and select applicants. There will be a batching date of April 24th to rank and fund applications received up to that date. Applications that cannot be funded because of a shortage of funds or lower priority can be retained for up to two years after which time the producer will need to re-apply.

Interested landowners can contact their local NRCS office listed in the telephone book under U.S. Department of Agriculture or online. General program information is available on the Alabama NRCS website.