White County Success Stories
Helton (128 KB) html
Seabolt (PDF) (189 KB) html
Brothers David and Blaine Helton run a poultry and cattle farm in White County. They were experiencing problems while spreading chicken litter on their pastures when they needed to clean-out their houses to make room for a new flock of birds to come through.
With the pastures often too wet or the time of year being inconvenient, the brothers were searching for a way to store their litter, but did not believe building a stackhouse was affordable.
They decided to sign up for the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) and were approved. Through this program, a resource management plan was developed which included a stackhouse, nutrient management, pest management, and prescribed grazing on their pastureland.
What is the Environmental Quality Incentives Program?
The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) was reauthorized in the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 (Farm Bill) to provide a voluntary conservation program for farmers and ranchers that promotes agricultural production and environmental quality as compatible national goals. EQIP offers financial and technical help to assist eligible participants install or implement structural and management practices on eligible agricultural land.
EQIP offers contracts with a minimum term that ends one year after the implementation of the last scheduled practices and a maximum term of ten years. These contracts provide incentive payments and cost-shares to implement conservation practices. Persons who are engaged in livestock or agricultural production on eligible land may participate in the EQIP program.
EQIP activities are carried out according to an environmental quality incentives program plan of operations developed in conjunction with the producer that identifies the appropriate conservation practice or practices to address the resource concerns. The practices are subject to NRCS technical standards adapted for local conditions. The local conservation district approves the plan.
EQIP may cost-share up to 75 percent of the costs of certain conservation practices. Incentive payments may be provided for up to three years to encourage producers to carry out management practices they may not otherwise use without the incentive. However, limited resource producers and beginning farmers and ranchers may be eligible for cost-shares up to 90 percent.
Farmers and ranchers may elect to use a certified third-party provider for technical assistance. An individual or entity may not receive, directly or indirectly, cost-share or incentive payments that, in the aggregate, exceed $450,000 for all EQIP contracts entered during the term of the Farm Bill.
For more information, contact your local NRCS Office.
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Paul Seabolt runs a very diversified farming operation in White County. It seems that there isn’t one thing that the Northeast Georgia farmer does not produce on his 1,200 acre property in Cleveland.
Every eight weeks he raises 200,000 chickens for Wayne Farms. Seabolt grows 250 acres of corn, 400 acres of hay, and dedicates the rest of the land as pasture for 1,000 head of cattle. “It’s just nonstop,” Paul Seabolt said.
Even though Seabolt dedicates much of his time to making sure every aspect of his operation goes smoothly, he also takes the time to pay attention to conservation concerns.
Seabolt said the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) has been very useful in helping him afford to take steps toward conservation.
The USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) awarded an EQIP contract to Seabolt so that he could address nutrient management, water quality, erosion, and pest management.
A stack house was built on the property near Seabolt’s chicken houses to address a nutrient management concern.
The stack house now keeps chicken litter dry and stored until Seabolt needs to use it to fertilize hay fields. District Conservationist, Russell Biggers said, “Without some of the cost-share, Paul wouldn’t have been able to do this.”
Heavy use areas have also been improved on Seabolt’s farm with the help of EQIP funds. The heavy use areas are the sight of watering troughs on the property where cattle can get a good source of clean drinking water.
Heavy use areas also control erosion around the troughs by covering an area around the troughs with a geo-textile fabric, and gravel or concrete. Seabolt used concrete.
A cross-fence around a pond on Seabolt’s land also protects water quality. The fence serves as a buffer between livestock and the pond.
Paul Seabolt’s EQIP contract also addressed his pest management concerns.
Weeds around his row crops have been treated and sprayed in an attempt to keep them from overtaking the corn that grows on the White County land. Seabolt said his EQIP contract has been a big help. “It saves us,” Seabolt said.
As a member of the White County Farm Bureau, Farmer’s Exchange, and the White County Chamber of Commerce’s Agriculture Committee, District Conservationist Russell Biggers said Seabolt shows he cares about conservation.
“I think you can see by his participation in programs that he is concerned about natural resources and doing his part to protect resources for the next generation.”
The 48 year old Paul Seabolt said that he simply wants to be a good steward of the land. “I have tried to preserve water and the land and leave it better than I found it,” Seabolt said.
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