Georgia NRCS is utilizing funding from the Inflation Reduction Act to build climate resiliency.
ATHENS, GEORGIA, Feb. 21, 2023 – The United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Georgia is conducting another Environmental Quality Incentives Program’s (EQIP) sign-up utilizing funding from the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) that Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced recently.
This statewide sign-up will take two approaches to assist producers who plan to build climate resiliency into their operations. First, those applying for cover crops (Practice Code 340) will be administered through the ACT NOW approach, which is a targeted, rapid, and streamlined application and contract approval process.
While this sign-up concludes on March 24, 2023, through the ACT NOW streamlined application and contract approval approach, cover crop applications will be assessed and ranked as they are submitted to the USDA Field Service Center. Based on funds availability, application assessments with a ranking score of 67 points or greater will be preapproved immediately for the first batch of funding. Producers are encouraged to apply for the program at their earliest convenience.
Secondly, those applying for energy conservation related practices will be administered through the normal batching and ranking process. The energy-specific practices included in this sign-up are as follows:
- Combustion System Improvement (Practice Code 372)
- Energy Efficient Agricultural Operation (Practice Code 374)
- Energy Efficient Lighting System (Practice Code 670)
- Energy Efficient Building Envelope (Practice Code 672)
“This sign-up will provide our customers another opportunity to make climate related investments in their farms and our communities.” said Terrance O. Rudolph, NRCS state conservationist in Georgia.
How to Apply
NRCS accepts applications for conservation programs year-round, but to be included in this funding batch, interested producers should contact their local USDA Service Center and apply by March 24, 2023. Additional sign-up batches may be announced at a later date, subject to the availability of funding.
On Nov. 21, 2022, USDA published a Federal Register Notice requesting public input on implementation of the funding provided by the IRA and sought comments on program delivery and outreach, especially for underserved producers. That notice closed on Dec. 21, 2022, and NRCS received over 450 comments from the public, which the agency is using to guide actions in fiscal year 2023 and will continue to identify and adopt additional changes based on that public feedback in fiscal year 2024 and in future years.
On Aug. 16, 2022, President Biden signed the IRA into law. It is a historic, once-in-a-generation investment and opportunity for the agricultural communities that USDA serves. The IRA will help producers stay on the farm, prevent producers from becoming ineligible for future assistance and promote climate-smart agriculture by increasing access to conservation assistance.
USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. Under the Biden-Harris administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov.