The U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service provides technical and financial assistance to landowners in Georgia to voluntarily address soil, water and related natural resource concerns on private lands.
The Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) provides financial and technical assistance to help conserve agricultural lands and wetlands and their related benefits. Under the Agricultural Land Easements component, NRCS helps Indian tribes, state and local governments and non-governmental organizations protect working agricultural lands and limit non-agricultural uses of the land. Under the Wetlands Reserve Easements component, NRCS helps to restore, protect and enhance enrolled wetlands.
ACEP is a new program that consolidates three former programs – the Wetlands Reserve Program, Grassland Reserve Program and Farm and Ranch Land Protection Program.
Agricultural Land Easements protect the long-term viability of the nation’s food supply by preventing conversion of productive working lands to non-agricultural uses. Land protected by agricultural land easements provides additional public benefits, including environmental quality, historic preservation, wildlife habitat and protection of open space. ACEP Fact Sheet (PDF, 1.2MB)
The ACEP, created through the 2014 Farm Bill, is a program that has two components, known as Agricultural Land Easements (ALE) and Wetlands Reserve Easements (WRE). The ACEP combines NRCS’ former Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program (FRPP), Grassland Reserve Program (GRP) and Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP).
Applications for the ACEP-ALE are accepted from eligible partners. These eligible entities may submit proposals to NRCS to acquire a conservation easement on eligible agricultural land. NRCS does not accept applications for ACEP-ALE directly from producers. Producers will need to work with an eligible entity to pursue funding for an ACEP-ALE conservation easement. Some examples of eligible entities include county Board of Commissioners, Land Trusts and Land Conservancies.
Approved ALE easements would prevent productive working lands from being converted to non-agricultural uses and maximize protection of land devoted to food production. Cropland, rangeland, grassland, pastureland and nonindustrial private forestland are eligible.
Wetlands Reserve Easement (WRE) applications are accepted directly from producers on eligible lands. Wetlands reserve easements would restore and enhance wetlands and improve habitat. Eligible lands include farmed or converted wetlands that can be successfully and cost-effectively restored. Applications will be rated according to the easement’s potential for protecting and enhancing habitat for migratory birds, fish and other wildlife.
To learn more, contact your local USDA Service Center or go to http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/GetStarted.
The North Georgia Irrigation Pilot Program (NGIPP), under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), offers two areas of improvement for water conservation - for irrigation improvements to reduce strain on area aquifers; and water quantity - to increase the availability of water sources for irrigation.
The NGIPP provides both technical and financial assistance to farmers interested in improving the water quality and quantity of their operation. The financial assistance can include payments for management activities and cost-share for the installation of certain conservation practices not to exceed $50,000. The conservation practices and activities for irrigation can include: micro-irrigation systems, irrigation water management plans, roof runoff management, and irrigation reservoir planning, among others.
For water conservation, producers must have an irrigation history of two out of the last five years and apply for a system that is more efficient than the one currently utilized. For water quantity and applying for an irrigation reservoir, producers must be presently utilizing an irrigation system and meet the requirements agreed upon in the Field Level Agreement between the US Army Corps of Engineers; Savannah District and the NRCS dated Oct. 5, 2006 which includes but not limited to:
• 10 acres or less in size
• Size of reservoir does not exceed the need shown in a NRCS Water Budget.
• Land must be currently in production and irrigation equipment on site.
• Applicant must meet Producer Eligibility requirements of EQIP.
• Structure does not exceed Georgia Safe Dams requirements.
Applications were due June 20, 2014, and were available to farmers and landowners in the following counties: Banks, Barrow, Butts, Carroll, Clarke, Clayton, Cobb, Coweta, Dawson, DeKalb, Douglas, Elbert, Fayette, Forsyth, Franklin, Fulton, Greene, Gwinnett, Habersham, Hall, Haralson, Hart, Heard, Henry, Jackson, Jasper, Lamar, Lumpkin, Madison, Meriwether, Monroe, Morgan, Newton, Oconee, Oglethorpe, Paulding, Pike, Putnam, Rockdale, Spalding, Stephens, Troup, Upson, Walton, White and Wilkes.
For more information about NRCS programs, initiatives and services in Georgia, visit online at http://www.ga.nrcs.usda.gov or visit your local NRCS office.
NRCS programs include
See these topics for more information or go to the USDA NRCS-Georgia website.
Farmers can educate themselves on U.S. microirrigation practices with a 200-page publication from USDA’s National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Microirrigation includes subsurface-drip irrigation, which is used for root-level water delivery to crops such as cotton and corn.
The Georgia Conservation Connection is the internal update for Georgia NRCS employees. The agency then publishes its newsletters online, which you can access here.