Agriculture or forest landowners in New Hampshire: If you are interested in protecting, conserving, or restoring the natural resources on your property through technical or financial assistance, contact your local USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) field office to begin the conservation planning process.
Once an NRCS Conservation Plan is developed, you can work with NRCS to determine which programs would best suit your conservation needs. Applications for NRCS programs and initiatives (see below for details) may be submitted at any time year-round; however, the next application cutoff date is December 3, 2012. In order for your application to be considered in the February 15 ranking, landowners/operators must submit a complete application packet (including eligibility paperwork) by December 3, 2012. Additional application cutoff dates may be announced if funding becomes available.
Applicants must be eligible in the USDA Farm Service Agency's (FSA) system by February 15, 2013, to be considered in this round. If your landowner eligibility has not yet been cleared by USDA, you are strongly advised to get your landowner eligibility documentation submitted to your USDA Service Center as soon as possible, because it may take several weeks to clear eligibility in order for your application to be ranked.
"NRCS conservation programs help farmers and forest landowners promote stewardship and environmental quality on farm and forestland, address water quality and quantity challenges, and protect valuable wetland ecosystems, agricultural lands, and wildlife habitat," said Rick Ellsmore, NRCS state conservationist for New Hampshire. "NRCS conservation professionals will discuss with you your conservation objectives, help you identify resource concerns, and suggest options and alternatives for treatment. We will also identify conservation programs that may provide you with financial assistance for the implementation of many conservation practices."
Examples of eligible lands in New Hampshire include privately owned:
- Agricultural land
- Nonindustrial private forestlands
- Freshwater wetlands and salt marshes
- Coastal habitats, and rivers and streams
Emphasis areas in New Hampshire are:
- Livestock and grazing issues
- Cropland - including orchards, specialty crops, high tunnel and greenhouse operations
- Organic agriculture
- Fish and wildlife habitat - including native pollinator habitat
- Energy conservation
The 2008 Farm Bill provides higher payments for landowners who qualify as beginning farmers, limited resource producers, or those who are "socially disadvantaged" because they belong to racial or ethnic groups that have historically been subjected to prejudice. Such landowners could historically receive up to 90 percent of the estimated incurred costs associated with planning and implementing conservation measures. However, Farm Bill program policy is subject to change.
- Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) - Through EQIP, farmers may receive financial and technical help with structural and management conservation practices on agricultural and forestland. EQIP in New Hampshire offers financial assistance to help offset the costs of eligible conservation practices. EQIP Initiatives include the Organic, On-Farm Energy, Seasonal High Tunnel, Long Island Sound Partnership, and the Water Quality (new watershed(s) to be determined), and New England & New York Forestry initiative.
- Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP) - This program provides assistance to landowners who want to improve fish and wildlife habitat or restore natural ecosystems on their land. This program includes the Working Lands for Wildlife New England Cottontail initiative that was offered last year.
- Agricultural Management Assistance Program (AMA) - This program provides assistance to agricultural producers to voluntarily address issues such as water management, water quality, and erosion control by incorporating conservation into their farming operations.
NRCS field offices are located in Concord, Conway, Epping, Lancaster, Milford, Orford, and Walpole. NRCS works with local conservation districts and other partners to serve farmers and landowners throughout the state.
Field office telephone numbers are:
- Concord: 603-223-6023
- Conway: 603-447-2771
- Epping: 603-679-1587
- Lancaster: 603-788-4651
- Milford: 603-673-2409
- Orford: 603-353-4651
- Walpole: 603-756-2988
Contact your local office for more information. General program information is available on the NRCS New Hampshire website at www.nh.nrcs.usda.gov