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News Release

USDA Announces Targeted Signup Period to Support Climate-Smart Agriculture and Forestry in North Carolina

Contact:
Julius George


RALEIGH, N.C., June 30, 2021 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is holding a targeted signup to support climate-smart agriculture and forestry through voluntary conservation practices in 10 states, including North Carolina. This assistance, available through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), will help agricultural producers plan and implement voluntary conservation practices that sequester carbon, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate the impacts of climate change on working lands.

Signup in North Carolina opens on July 2, 2021 with an application deadline of July 23, 2021. USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), which administers EQIP, selected states based on demonstrated demand for additional support for climate-smart practices. This pilot approach will be expanded through a comprehensive effort across all states and programs to support farmers, ranchers and forest landowners in fiscal year 2022.

“Agricultural producers are the best stewards of our lands and waters, and they play a critical role in climate change mitigation,” said Timothy Beard, NRCS State Conservationist in North Carolina. “We will use this EQIP signup to deliver support for implementing critical climate-smart conservation practices to our producers. By working with our partner groups across the state, we are striving to ensure funds are equitably distributed, including to our historically underserved producers.”

EQIP and Targeted Climate Change Mitigation

Through EQIP, NRCS provides agricultural producers and landowners with financial assistance and one-on-one technical support to plan and implement voluntary conservation practices. The outcomes are a benefit for producers and the environment, with producers conserving natural resources and delivering environmental benefits while building resiliency to strengthen their working land.

While NRCS offers a broad array of conservation practices, the agency identifies a sub-set as critical for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, sequestering carbon and ultimately mitigating the impacts of climate change. These climate-smart conservation practices will be prioritized in this targeted EQIP signup period and support systems for:

  • Building soil health.
  • Improving nitrogen management.
  • Improving livestock waste management systems.
  • Enhancing grazing and pasture management.
  • Improving agroforestry, forestry and upland wildlife habitat.

Producers can visit NRCS’s EQIP webpage for a list of the specific climate-smart conservation practices and are encouraged to contact the NRCS office at their local USDA Service Center for more information about priority conservation practices in North Carolina.

In addition to North Carolina, producers in Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin can also apply for this current funding opportunity.

How to Apply

NRCS will rank applications for funding based on expected climate change mitigation benefits. Producers can contact the NRCS office at their local USDA Service Center to learn more about the selection process for awarding contracts. Priority conservation categories in North Carolina include soil health, nitrogen management, grazing and pasture management and agroforestry, forestry and upland wildlife habitat.

Additional information about this targeted EQIP signup is available at nrcs.usda.gov/eqip. North Carolina producers and landowners are encouraged to work with their local NRCS office to begin the application process and submit all application materials by July 23, 2021. USDA encourages historically underserved producers and landowners to apply and will work with partner groups to ensure funds are equitably distributed. While certain USDA offices may be closed to visitors because of the pandemic, Service Center staff continue to work with agricultural producers via phone, email and other digital tools.

Under the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is engaged in a whole-of-government effort to combat the climate crisis and conserve and protect our nation’s lands, biodiversity and natural resources including our soil, air and water. Through conservation practices and partnerships, USDA aims to enhance economic growth and create new streams of income for farmers, ranchers, producers and private foresters. Successfully meeting these challenges will require USDA and our agencies to pursue a coordinated approach alongside USDA stakeholders, including State, local and Tribal governments.

USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. In 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 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.

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