By Philip W. Moore
Key Program Technician, Conservation, GIS and Environmental Compliance
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) accepts applications for the Emergency Conservation Program. (ECP) to address farmland damage from Tropical Storm Fred last month in Cherokee and Clay counties. Registration for the ECP began on Tuesday September 14, 2021 and will end on Friday November 12, 2021.
ECP practices approved under this authorization include 1) removal of debris from agricultural land; 2) leveling, shaping, leveling or similar measures; and 3) restore permanent fences.
ECP helps producers cover salvage costs to restore farmland to pre-disaster conditions. Approved ECP applicants can receive up to 75 percent of the cost of the approved restoration activity. Resource-constrained, socially disadvantaged, and beginner farmers and herders can receive up to 90 percent cost-sharing. A 25 percent deposit will be given for the repair or replacement of the fence.
Producers who have suffered damage from such events should seek help before starting reconstruction work.. The FSA’s National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the environmental compliance review process must be completed before any action is taken. Applications submitted after the reconstruction work has been completed may not be eligible for the PCE. Debris must be removed from the 100-year floodplain. Fences must be rebuilt or repaired to USDA standards including, but not limited to, the appropriate corner braces and the appropriate number of wire strands.
FSA County Committees will assess the claims based on an on-site inspection of the damaged land, taking into account the type and extent of the damage. An on-site inspection does not guarantee that cost-shared funding will be provided.
The use of ECP funds is limited to activities aimed at restoring land to its pre-disaster state. Conservation issues that were present on the land before the disaster are not eligible for PCE assistance.
For more information on ECP, please contact the Murphy USDA Service Center at 828-837-2721, ext. 2, or visit farmers.gov/recover.