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News Release

AFC Partnership Initiative for Forestry Landowners in the Blackbelt Targets 13 Counties

Auburn, Ala., March 24, 2010

State Conservationist Dr. William Puckett with the USDA-NRCS announced April 2, 2010, as the cutoff date for a Partnership Initiative with the Alabama Forestry Commission Targeting Underserved Forest Landowners under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).  Applying for EQIP is continuous; however, selecting applications for funding is completed periodically through batching periods with specific cutoff dates. 

EQIP is a voluntary program that provides financial and technical assistance to farmers and ranchers who face threats to soil, water, air, and related natural resources on their land.  The 2008 Farm Bill authorized Special Emphasis funding for:  Beginning, Socially Disadvantaged, and Limited Resource Farmers and Ranchers.  Puckett said, “In Alabama, we have allocated special funds to target forest health in thirteen counties in the Blackbelt Region.  There are currently over 2.8 million forested acres in this area of the state.”  

Forest landowners in the targeted counties are encouraged to participate:  Bullock, Dallas, Greene, Hale, Lowndes, Macon, Marengo, Montgomery, Perry, Pickens, Russell, Sumter, and Wilcox.

Conservation practices that will be targeted under the Partnership Initiative for Underserved Forest Landowners are:  Prescribed burning, firebreaks, fuel breaks, thinning and other forest stand improvement practices, hardwood tree planting, loblolly tree planting, longleaf tree planting, and site preparation practices for tree planting. 

Interested producers should visit their nearest USDA Service Center to determine eligibility. Individuals are not eligible for EQIP until they have completed the Farm Bill eligibility requirements.  Contact your local Natural Resources Conservation Service office or Farm Service Agency Office to begin this process.   NRCS field offices are listed in the telephone directory under U.S. Department of Agriculture or on-line at http://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov.