The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Alabama has announced signup is underway for Fiscal Year 2023 Farm Bill Easement and Financial Assistance Programs. Those programs include:
- ACEP-WRE, the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program – Wetland Reserve Easements
- CSP, the Conservation Stewardship Program
- EQIP, the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, which also includes the Conservation Incentive Contracts (CIC)
ACEP-WRE easements provide habitat for fish and wildlife, including threatened and endangered species, improve water quality by filtering sediments and chemicals, reduce flooding, recharge groundwater, protect biological diversity and provide opportunities for educational, scientific and limited recreational activities.
CSP helps agricultural producers maintain and improve their existing conservation systems and adopt additional conservation activities to address priority resources concerns. Participants earn CSP payments for conservation performance, the higher the performance, the higher the payment.
EQIP provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers to address natural resource concerns and deliver environmental benefits such as improved water and air quality, conserved ground and surface water, increased soil health and reduced soil erosion and sedimentation, improved or created wildlife habitat, and mitigation against increasing weather volatility.
Within EQIP, High Priority and Source Water Protection practices will receive higher payment rates in designated conservation areas within the state. Additionally, in FY2023, Conservation Incentive Contracts will be offered.
Applications are accepted on a continuous basis; but selecting applications for funding is completed periodically through batching periods with specific cutoff dates. The signup deadline for these programs is November 18th, 2022. Applications received after this date will be held and considered for subsequent funding opportunities.