USDA Extends Two Major Conservation Program Sign-up Deadlines in Florida

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US Department of Agriculture

USDA Extends Two Major Conservation Program Sign-up Deadlines in Florida As Hurricane Ian Impacts Florida Agriculture


GAINESVILLE, FL, September 30, 2022 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has extended the application deadline for two of its major conservation programs to October 7, the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP), as a result of Hurricane Ian’s recent impact on agricultural producers and landowners throughout the state, announced Juan C. Hernandez, State Conservationist for NRCS in Florida.

“Given the extreme circumstances Florida landowners are facing caused by Hurricane Ian, and because our offices were closed for several days this week, we are extending the EQIP and RCPP deadlines to allow more time for those who would like to apply for this year’s funding considerations,” said Hernandez.

The original September 2 deadline, previously extended to September 30, has been further extended to October 7 to allow farmers, ranchers, and non-industrial private forestland managers who still want to apply to do so next week. All previously closed NRCS offices, except for Lee County’s field office, are scheduled to re-open on Monday, October 3, unless additional office closures are required because of storm damages.

Details for an emergency EQIP program sign-up will be announced as soon as funding is available to help with immediate needs and long-term support to help agricultural producers and forestry landowners recover from Hurricane Ian and conserve water and forestry resources, stated Hernandez.

NRCS also offers help, after a natural disaster, through its Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) Program, which alleviates hazards to life and property caused by floods, hurricanes, fires, windstorms and other natural disasters. Public and private landowners are eligible for assistance, but must be represented by a project sponsor, such as a city, county, conservation district or tribal government. Details for this program sign-up will be announced at a later date, pending funding approval.

“At this time, the extent of damage and potential for EWP need is unknown,” said Hernandez. “As soon as it is safe to conduct preliminary damage assessments, we will start engaging with potential program sponsors.

Through EQIP, a voluntary conservation program, NRCS provides agricultural producers and landowners with financial resources and one-on-one help to plan and implement improvements, or what NRCS calls conservation practices, that address natural resource concerns. Using EQIP conservation practices can lead to cleaner water and air, healthier soil and better wildlife habitat, all while improving agricultural operations.

Eligible EQIP applicants must be engaged in agricultural production or forestry management or have an interest in the agricultural or forestry operation associated with the land offered for enrollment. Eligible land is that on which agricultural commodities, livestock, or forest-related products are produced, and specifically includes cropland, rangeland, pastureland, nonindustrial private forestland, other agricultural land such as environmentally sensitive areas, and agricultural land used to produce livestock. At least one natural resource concern must be identified and addressed with a conservation practice or activity on eligible land.

For RCPP, Florida private landowners in the St. Marks and Aucilla River watersheds can apply for financial and technical assistance which will help landowners in portions of Leon, Jefferson, Wakulla, Madison, and Taylor counties conduct prescribed burns, remove invasive plants, plant longleaf pine trees, and create wildlife habitat on their property. Interested producers and landowners should act quickly to submit their applications for these programs by contacting their local NRCS field office for more information.

Full website URLs for programs hyperlinked in this article:

More on NRCS

NRCS, originally called the Soil Conservation Service, was created in 1935 as a direct response to the Dust Bowl. NRCS helps private landowners improve the health of their operations while protecting natural resources for the future. NRCS has 34 field offices throughout Florida with teams ready to help landowners with conservation programs.

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