Emergency Conservation Program sign-up underway

Published 9:04 am Tuesday, April 30, 2019

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Both Claiborne and Union Counties have been approved to conduct a sign-up for the Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) due to flooding and flash flooding that occurred during the period Feb. 6 through March 3, 2019. Applications for the cost-share program may be filed now through June 14.

The ECP administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency (FSA), provides emergency funding and technical assistance to farmers to rehabilitate eligible farmland damaged by natural disasters such as flooding.

The FSA County Committee determines land eligibility based on on-site inspections of damaged land and the type and extent of damage. Eligible land includes land used for: 1) Grazing for commercial livestock production; 2) Commercial farming and orchard operations; 3) Growing nursery stock and Christmas tree plantations; 4) Conservation structures such as: waterways, dams, ponds, and other water impoundments for agricultural uses. Conservation problems that existed or were caused before the recent flooding event are not eligible for ECP assistance.

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Eligible farmland restoration practices include: 1) Debris removal from fields {cleanup of woody material, sand, rock, and trash on bottom cropland or pastureland}; 2) Grading, shaping, or releveling land {filling gullies}; 3) Restoring fences {livestock cross fences, boundary fences, cattle gates or wildlife exclusion fence from agricultural land}; and 4) Restoring conservation structures {waterways, diversion ditches, and permanently installed ditching systems}.

Cost-share payments are: Up to 75 percent of the eligible cost of practice installation, and up to 90 percent cost-share for limited resource producers (earning less than $25,100 adjusted gross income in each of the tax years 2016 and 2017), beginning farmers, and socially disadvantaged producers.

For cost-share practices started before filing an ECP application and those started after obtaining application approval detailed evidence and documentation of expenses incurred and work performed must be maintained and submitted to the County Office before any payment is earned. For example, if “hired labor and/or equipment” or “personal labor and/or equipment” is used to perform a Debris Removal practice, signed statements shall include: dates of work performed, cost per hour charged, type of equipment used, charge for equipment, type and cost of materials used. Invoices, canceled checks, paid receipts will also need to be submitted as evidence of work performed.

Other eligibility requirements may apply. For additional information, please contact the Claiborne-Union County FSA Office at 2178 Hwy 25E, Tazewell, TN or call 423-626-3811, or toll-free 1-888-257-1245, option “02”. Also visit FSA’s website at http://disaster.fsa.usda.gov.