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Montgomery County Success Stories

Thomas Davis (PDF) (342 KB)html
James Drinks (PDF) (264 KB)html

Small Farmer Initiative and Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) Helps Farmer to Keep Going

Thomas Davis farms 30 acres of cropland in Uvalda, Montgomery County.

Davis, a third generation farmer, was raised on a farm and enjoys it. “I was raised on a farm, my father farmed as did my grandfather who bought the farm in 1918. I enjoy farming. I’m trying to keep it going. I’m the only one of my siblings that farms. I rent 20 acres from my brother and sister,” said Davis.

The one and only natural resource concern that Davis had was lack of water. He did not have any water available on the farm for irrigation.

Davis learned about the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) by talking with an employee of the Farm Service Agency. Davis sought the assistance of the NRCS.

Scotty Thomas, soil conservationist with the NRCS in Mt. Vernon, described the resource concern as a water quantity concern of a Small-Limited Resource Farmer. “Mr. Davis applied and was approved for funding through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program’s (EQIP) Small Farmer Initiative to install a well and irrigation system to enhance his small pick-your-own and truck crop vegetable operation,” said Thomas.

Davis likes the program and the NRCS. “EQIP is an outstanding program. Without it I would not be able to have the well or the irrigation system that has been installed,” said Davis. “The program and the NRCS is easy to work with. I’m very happy with the program.”

Davis says he will be producing a better yield of crops with the new irrigation system. “By leaving it up to nature the produce is poor. Produce will be excellent with the system. My yield of crops will be higher,” said Davis.

From world traveler to country boy, hunter and fisherman, Davis’ conservation philosophy for future generations is to care for nature. “Protect the land. Do whatever it takes to protect the land. I’m a country boy that’s been all over the world, but this is home. I hunt and fish. We need to care for nature.”

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Small Farmer gets Assistance through the Small Farmers Initiative

James Drinks owns a small, 45acre farm just outside the town of Uvalda in Montgomery County. Like his father and grandfather before him, he raises beef cattle and a 20 head of beef at any given time.

Drinks was concerned initially about his cutover woodland. It was a tangled mess not producing anything of value. He needed a fence to keep his cattle in the pasture and also to help keep them out of the pond.

Drinks built the two acre pond himself several years ago with technical assistance from the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

Drinks also needed a way to feed his cattle better. His pasture was not producing any for age for cattle because of too many trees.

He heard from other farmers about the successes the NRCS was having with conservation in his community.

Drinks decided to ask the Farm Service Agency if he could get help with making conservation improvements on his farm. They referred him to the NRCS.

“About 1998 he was approved for a cost share program for the cutover woodland under the Forestry Incentive Program,” said Sidney Lanier, district conservationist for the NRCS in Swainsboro.

“Using the Small Farmers Initiative with the Environment Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), the NRCS was able to help Mr. Drinks,” said Lanier.

The NRCS also assisted Drinks with fencing, his wetlands and grasses for grazing. “We helped with his fencing to keep the livestock out of the wetland and to help the cattle graze more efficiently. Using the silvopasture method, two acres of his pasture has been thinned of the trees and planted in bahia grass for grazing,” said Lanier.

Lanier went on to say, “He had an eroding cropland field that has been sprigged in Tift 85 Bermuda (grass) for a pasture and/or hay and he plans to install a pipeline, water trough and heavy use area soon.”

Drinks said that funding helped him utilize conservation practices that he could not have implemented otherwise. "EQIP (funds) paid a good part of what I had to do. With the high cost of material, if it had not been for the program I do not know what I would have done,” said Drinks.

All of the conservation treatments have benefited Drinks’ farm. “I’ll be able to get the type of grasses I need for the livestock. The cattle are fenced out of the pond and the waterway is cleaner. Other farmers allow cattle in their ponds- that’s not good conservation,” said Drinks.

Drinks tells future generations that work is the key to conservation. “Try and conserve the resources we have. If we want to have any natural resources, we need to work at it. The NRCS has the knowledge to help,” said Drinks.

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