Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer announced that up to $58.4 million in financial assistance is available to agricultural producers through the Agricultural Water Enhancement Program (AWEP) . It was established in the new farm bill to promote ground and surface water conservation and water quality improvement.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is seeking project proposals from potential partners through this programme. A Request for Proposals was published in the Federal Register.
The Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, or 2008 Farm Bill, established AWEP as a component of the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), USDA's largest conservation programme on working agricultural lands. All EQIP requirements and policies will apply to AWEP.
USDA-NRCS administers EQIP, a voluntary conservation programme that provides technical assistance and payments to help crop and livestock producers address environmental concerns through conservation improvements on agricultural and non-industrial private forests lands. Farmers and ranchers can use EQIP to farm in an environmentally friendly manner and still meet their agricultural production goals. In addition, it is designed to produce significant environmental benefits to the public, such as improved soil, water and air quality, and enhanced wildlife habitat.
The new farm bill expanded EQIP to include AWEP. AWEP offers financial and technical assistance to help farmers and ranchers carry out water enhancement activities that conserve ground and surface water and improve water quality on agricultural lands such as cropland, pasture, grassland and rangeland.
Agricultural producers in selected project areas can apply for available AWEP funds at their local USDA service center.
Source: USDA – United States Department of Agriculture