Production Based Programs
Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQUIP)
The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) is a voluntary program that provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers through contracts up to a maximum term of ten years in length. These contracts provide financial assistance to help plan and implement conservation practices that address natural resource concerns and for opportunities to improve soil, water, plant, animal, air and related resources on agricultural land and non-industrial private forestland. In addition, a purpose of EQIP is to help producers meet Federal, State, Tribal and local environmental regulations.
Grassland Reserve Program (GRP)
The Grassland Reserve Program (GRP) is a voluntary conservation program that emphasizes support for working grazing operations, enhancement of plant and animal biodiversity, and protection of grassland under threat of conversion to other uses.
Participants voluntarily limit future development and cropping uses of the land while retaining the right to conduct common grazing practices and operations related to the production of forage and seeding, subject to certain restrictions during nesting seasons of bird species that are in significant decline or are protected under Federal or State law. A grazing management plan is required for participants.
Agricultural Resource Conservation Fund (ARCF Fund)
The ARCF provides cost-share assistance to Tennessee landowners to install Best Management Practices (BMPs) that reduce agricultural water pollution. This assistance is facilitated primarily through Soil Conservation Districts although Resource Conservation and Development Councils, universities, and other agricultural associations may participate.
A wide range of BMPs are available for cost-share, from those that curtail soil erosion to ones that help to remove pollutants from water runoff from agricultural operations. Landowners may be eligible to receive up to 75% of the cost of a BMP installation. Part of the fund is available for educational projects which raise awareness of soil erosion/water quality problems and promote BMP use.
Tennessee Agricultural Enhancement Program (TAEP)
The Tennessee Agricultural Enhancement Program provides funding to the Water Resources Program to assist Soil Conservation Districts with lessening soil erosion and improving water quality through:
- Technical assistance costs
- Conservation field day expenses
- Procurement of specialty agricultural equipment
Participants are encouraged to apply for funds on a watershed-oriented basis, with emphasis on waters listed on the state’s 303(d) List as being impaired by agriculture.
Non-Production Based Programs
Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP)
The Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) presents a significant shift in how NRCS provides conservation program payments. CSP participants will receive an annual land use payment for operation-level environmental benefits they produce. Under CSP, participants are paid for conservation performance: the higher the operational performance, the higher their payment.
Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP)
The Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) is a voluntary program offering landowners the opportunity to protect, restore, and enhance wetlands on their property. The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) provides technical and financial support to help landowners with their wetland restoration efforts. The NRCS goal is to achieve the greatest wetland functions and values, along with optimum wildlife habitat, on every acre enrolled in the program. This program offers landowners an opportunity to establish long-term conservation and wildlife practices and protection.
Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP)
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) administers the Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) Program, which responds to emergencies created by natural disasters. It is not necessary for a national emergency to be declared for an area to be eligible for assistance.
The program is designed to help people and conserve natural resources by relieving imminent hazards to life and property caused by floods, fires, windstorms, and other natural occurrences. EWP is an emergency recovery program. All projects undertaken, with the exception of the purchase of floodplain easements, must have a project sponsor.
NRCS may bear up to 75 percent of the construction cost of emergency measures. The remaining 25 percent must come from local sources and can be in the form of cash or in-kind services. Funding is subject to Congressional approval.
Emergency Conservation Program (ECP)
USDA Farm Service Agency’s (FSA) Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) provides emergency funding and technical assistance for farmers and ranchers to rehabilitate farmland damaged by natural disasters and for carrying out emergency water conservation measures in periods of severe drought. Funding for ECP is appropriated by Congress.
Non-Discrimination Statement:The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits discrimination in all its programs and activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, or marital or family status. (Not all prohibited bases apply to all programs.) Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication of program information (Braille, large print, audiotape, etc.) should contact USDA’s TARGET Center at 202-720-2600 (voice and TDD). To file a complaint of discrimination, write USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, Room 326W, Whitten Building, 14th and Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (202) 720-5964 (voice and TDD). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.