The 2008 Farm Bill was a watershed event for specialty crop and other farmers who have not historically been fully included in Farm Bill programs. In particular, conservation programs focused greater attention on the needs of specialty crop growers, organic farmers, and limited resource and minority farmers. As conservation programs authorized by the Farm Bill have been implemented, CAP has been involved in projects to address emerging issues and key constituents:
Building on work with other specialty crop and minority farmers, CAP carried out a project with NCSU crop consultants and Extension agents to provide a more interactive outreach and education program to increase participation in EQIP. In addition to the Step by Step guide, we developed a conservation workbook for sweet potato production and a list of additional practices to broaden awareness about the range of conservation activities available for sweet potato growers.
Through a project with NCSU, CAP helped to develop a component to the CP-33 program that provides specifications payment for the establishment of pollinator and beneficial insect habitat.
Putting the Farm Bill to Work was a program to expand opportunities for farmers, specialty crop producers, and other growers new to Farm Bill programs, to support their use of environmentally sound farming practices through participation in the Conservation Programs authorized by the 2002 Farm Bill. CAP’s program included specialty crop producers from across the nation:
Working with a wide range of partners in each state, Putting the Farm Bill to Work helped to:
The 2002 Farm Bill created opportunities for specialty crop producers to participate in a number of conservation programs. The largest of these is the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) which is available nationally. The Conservation Security Program (CSP) was started in the spring of 2004 and offers long term contracts that support growers who have already undertaken conservation practices on their farms and are interested in expanding that work.
Participation in conservation programs has several near and long term advantages for specialty crop producers:
EQIP, CSP, and other conservation programs which address specific resource issues, are administered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), an agency of the U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which has offices in every state.
For more information on the NRCS office in your state go to: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/about/organization/ regions.html#state and click on your state. For your local county NRCS office look on the left hand side of the front page for the state NRCS office under "Quick Access" and click on "Find a Service Center".