The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), an agency of the United States Department of Agriculture, provides technical assistance to the Franklin Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) in order to help the District implement its conservation programs. The NRCS was formed as the Soil Erosion Service in the early 1930's after the "dustbowl" era in which millions of tons of topsoil was blown or eroded away in the Midwest and Southwest portions of the country.
The Soil Erosion Service soon became the Soil Conservation Service (SCS), but its charge was the same--to save invaluable topsoil in order for agricultural land to remain as productive as possible and to provide technical assistance to farmers to solve soil erosion problems.
Now, since becoming the NRCS in 1993, the agency has expanded its focus on natural resource problems to include not only soil erosion, but also water quality, wetlands, wildlife habitat and forestry--all while maintaining the personal technical assistance to producers that helped found the agency.
Conservation Technical Assistance (CTA) serves as the agency's basis for providing assistance to landowners and operators. CTA provides the staff, research and technical standards for delivering technical assistance to support USDA and SWCD's conservation efforts in Franklin County and across the nation. Through the CTA program, NRCS assists individual land users, communities, units of state and local governments to meet their goals for natural resource stewardship. In association with CTA, there are also several conservation programs which provide cost share to landowners to help them apply conservation practices. Click here for a summary of these programs. This information is also paraphrased below.
Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) - started in 1996 and is NRCS's leading cost-sharing program for implementing conservation practices. The funding for this program is county-based. Some examples of practices installed with EQIP funding include grassed waterways, field borders, fencing for prescribed grazing, livestock watering systems, waste management facilities, long-term no-till and closure of abandoned waste lagoons.
Conservation Security Program (CSP) authorized by the 2002 Farm Bill, this program will provide a management based incentive payment to producers who are assessed to be sound stewards of their land, and have employed the use of conservation practices in their farming operation. The rules for CSP are not yet final... check with Farm Service Agency (FSA) or NRCS for the latest updates.
Farm & Ranch Land Protection Program (FRPP) is a voluntary program that helps farmers and ranchers keep their land in agriculture. The program provides matching funds to State, Tribal, local governments and non-governmental organizations, with existing farmland protection programs to purchase conservation easements or other interest in land.
Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) is a voluntary program that provides technical and financial assistance to eligible landowners to address wetland, wildlife habitat, soil, water and related natural resource concerns on private land in an environmentally beneficial and cost-effective manner. This program provides an opportunity for landowners to receive financial incentives to enhance wetlands in exchange for retiring marginal land from agriculture.
Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP) is a voluntary program that encourages creation of high quality wildlife habitats that support wildlife populations of National, State, Tribal and local significance.
Grasslands Reserve Program (GRP) is a voluntary program offering landowners the opportunity to protect, restore, and enhance grasslands on their property. The Natural Resources Conservation Service, Farm Service Agency and Forest Service are coordinating implementation of GRP, which helps landowners restore and protect grassland, rangeland, pastureland, shrub land and certain other lands and provides assistance for rehabilitating grasslands. The program will conserve vulnerable grasslands from conversion to cropland or other uses and conserve valuable grasslands by helping maintain viable ranching operations.
Limited Resource Farmers the 2002 Farm Bill recognizes the unique challenges of farmers and ranchers who are just beginning their agricultural operations, of those with limited resources, and of American Indian and Alaskan Native Tribes who have special relationships with the US government.
Other Programs of Interest
Conservation Reserve Program and Conservation Reserve Program-Continuous (CRP) is a voluntary program for agricultural landowners. Through CRP, you can receive annual rental payments and cost-share assistance to establish long-term, resource conserving covers on eligible farmland.
Southern Pine Beetle Prevention Program this program was established in 2005, it is a state program funded by grants from USDA Forest Service Forest Health Protection. In Franklin County, you may contact the Forestry Service at (919) 496-3665.