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NRCS Program to Help Farmers
February 11, 2009 - It has been several months since farm fields in Indiana suffered huge damages from some of the most significant rainstorms and flooding ever in the Midwest. Last summer, as the flood waters receded, farmers were in their fields surveying damages and replanting drowned crops. In some fields the damages were so great that it will take years and great expense to restore them to adequate levels of productivity.
“We have seen places here in Indiana where flooding losses happen frequently enough, and productivity is low enough that they are not worth the investment it takes to continue to farm them,” says State Conservationist Jane Hardisty, of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). “We have an opportunity to offer farmers who find themselves in that situation.”
“There are two conservation programs in which funding has been authorized to purchase easements on farmlands where flooding is a problem. We anticipate receiving significant dollars for both the Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) and the Floodplain Easement Program (FEP) in 2009. The eligibility requirements are slightly different in the two programs, but this is an excellent time to enroll fields or parts of fields where flooding or flood damages have made crop production marginal,” says Hardisty.
For the Floodplain Easement Program, land qualifies if it has been flooded at least once in the past 12 months, or twice in the past 10 years. In the Wetlands Reserve Program, land qualifies if it would have been considered a wetland area before it was converted to agricultural production.
Under both programs, NRCS buys easements on lands to remove them from production agriculture. Once the easements are in place, NRCS may do some restoration work to put the land back into floodplain use or wetland conditions. Restoration work is paid up to 100% by NRCS, and helps retain flood waters in floodplains and associated areas, restore water quality, and provide habitats for wildlife.
Easement compensation is based on a cap set for each county, and the land is valued either as cropland or non-cropland. Interested landowners can get more information and apply by visiting NRCS at the USDA Service Center 146 E County Road 200 N, New Castle. More information can be found on-line at http://www.in.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/ under “Easement Programs.”
USDA Service Center locations can be found at: http://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov/locator/app.
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