USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) State Conservationist for Alabama Ben Malone announced that November 13, 2020 will be the signup batching deadline for producers for the Fiscal Year 2021 Farm Bill easement and financial assistance programs. Applicable programs include:

• Agricultural Conservation Easement Program – Wetland Reserve Easements (ACEP-WRE)

• Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP)

• Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)

NRCS offers voluntary programs to eligible landowners and agricultural producers to provide financial and technical assistance to help manage natural resources in a sustainable manner. Through these programs, the agency approves contracts to provide financial assistance to help plan and implement conservation practices that address natural resource concerns or opportunities to help save energy, improve soil, water, plant, air, animal and related resources on agricultural lands and non-industrial private forest land. More specifically:

• 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. Land eligible for wetland reserve easements include farmed or converted wetland that can be successfully and cost-effectively restored. NRCS will prioritize applications based on the easement’s potential for protecting and enhancing habitat for migratory birds and other wildlife.

• CSP: This program 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.

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