To be eligible for cost-share under ECP, practices should not be started until a request has been filed at the FSA Service Center and an on-site inspection has been made by an FSA representative. Producers who have taken emergency actions before filing an application may be eligible if it is determined that such action was necessary to prevent further loss. Approval of cost-share for practices started before filing an application or before the program announcement must meet all criteria for federal cost-share assistance including compliance with environmental regulations.
Alma Jean Noakes of the Stanford Service Center said that 1,300 producers in Lincoln and Garrard counties have already applied for the program and the center hopes they will receive enough funding to cover all the applicants. Noakes said that labor involved in clearing the debris or making repairs is a legitimate cost and the amount per hour varies from activity to activity. For example, a person operating a chainsaw might be eligible for up to $20 per hour.
Equitable Relief Process
Landowners who suffered damage to practices installed under the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) or Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP) as a result of the January 2009 storm may be eligible to receive assistance to repair or reinstall those practices through the agency's Equitable Relief process.
"After one of the most devastating winter storms the people of Kentucky have experienced, NRCS is working hard to bring relief to farmers," said Tom Perrin, State Conservationist for NRCS in Kentucky, "The Equitable Relief process is a way to keep our conservation practices on the ground working to the fullest potential."
Equitable Relief must be approved by the USDA Office of General Counsel (OGC) and if approved, a new contract will be developed. To be eligible for Equitable Relief, the practice must have been cost-shared under EQIP or WHIP, must still be under the practice lifespan, was being maintained according to NRCS guidance, and must have received significant damage due to the storm. Practices which were in contracts that have been terminated or cancelled will not be considered for Equitable Relief.
Repair or replacement of practices may not be started until funding is approved. A waiver to begin a practice prior to receiving funding may be requested; however, until approved by OCG and NRCS, there is no guarantee of funding.
NRCS will accept requests for Equitable Relief at local USDA Service Centers until April 16.
Both offices are located at 102 Metker Trail in Stanford. For information about the FSA's Emergency Conservation Program contact Alma Jean Noakes at (606)365-2588. For the NRCS's Equitable Relief Process contact Bo Renfro at (606)365-2214.