Alaska NRCS did not schedule a spring State Technical Committee meeting because of the late passage of the 2014 Farm Bill. Many significant changes in NRCS programs occurred with the passage of the new Farm Bill and with each new Farm Bill several months are required for new policy to be developed and implemented. Programs, rules, and material were not available. We decided to postpone a State Technical Committee meeting until we could provide the committee with specific information regarding the changes in our programs.
Highlights of the 2014 Agricultural Act (Farm Bill) concerning NRCS:
Reauthorization and expansion of the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) to include the provisions of the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP). The WHIP program was rolled into the EQIP program.
The newly authorized Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) combines the provisions and functions of three past easement programs, the Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program (FRPP), the Grassland Reserve Program (GRP) and the Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP).
Existing partnership programs have been combined into the new Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) and added to.
Many programs were reauthorized by the legislation including:
Conservation Stewardship Program (CStP)
Technical Service Providers (TSPs)
Conservation Innovation Grants
Agriculture Conservation Experienced Services Program
Emergency Watershed Protection Program (EWP)
Alaska NRCS was delayed until the end of May in getting 2014 EQIP funding. We received $9.3 million in EQIP financial assistance for 2014 and received over 300 applications for assistance. Currently, our field staff are processing EQIP applications and writing contracts with landowners.
I look forward to seeing each of you in the fall for our next State Technical Committee meeting. In the meantime, please see the new 2014 Farm Bill fact sheets.
State Resource Conservationist