$26 Million Allocated to Private Lands Conservation in South Carolina in 2011
Farm Bill Programs Protect Natural Resources on Private Lands in the Palmetto State
USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in South Carolina reports that in 2011 private landowners received over $26 million in financial assistance to protect and improve soil, water, air, plants and animals.
Conservation provisions in the Farm Bill provide opportunities for farmers and ranchers to address high priority environmental goals. Financial and technical assistance is available to eligible applicants who aim to reduce soil erosion, enhance water supplies, improve water quality, increase wildlife habitat, and reduce damages caused by floods and other natural disasters. Public benefits include enhanced natural resources that help sustain agricultural productivity and environmental quality while supporting continued economic development, recreation, and scenic beauty.
In South Carolina, NRCS’ Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) allocated nearly $8 million to protect 35,800 acres this year. The EQIP Organic Initiative provided assistance on 1,500 acres in the state for nearly $700,000. Wildlife habitat protection and improvement was made possible through the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP) which allocated $1.2 million on over 15,000 acres. The Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) is a voluntary conservation program that encourages producers to address resource concerns in a comprehensive manner by undertaking additional conservation activities and improving, maintaining, and managing existing conservation activities. In South Carolina this year, nearly 78,000 acres were protected and improved through CSP.
The Farm Bill also addresses the unique circumstances and concerns of socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers, as well as beginning and limited resource farmers and ranchers. SC NRCS ensured that programs and services were accessible to all NRCS customers, fairly and equitably, with emphasis on reaching this underserved audience. NRCS State Conservationist Ann English said, “In South Carolina, twenty-three percent of our total allocation was allocated to underserved customers.”