Helping You Plant for Pollinators: technical assistance, funding, and more
State governments have incentives, as does the Federal government including technical assistance to help land owners create pollinator habitat. The 2014 Farm Bill “recognized that pollinators are a crucial part of healthy agricultural and natural landscapes.” 1 The bill added “targeted support for the creation of honey bee habitat.”2 Programs are already in place; tax incentives are available for land owners to plant pollinator habitat. A number of websites provide detailed information
and the application process about these programs. Understanding the programs, eligibility, technical assistance, and cost share are some of the factors inherent in any of these programs.
Technical assistance: The USDA offers technical assistance to help farmers, ranchers, local government, citizen groups, and others to help create pollinator habitat. “Conservation technical assistance is the help NRCS and its partners provide to land users to address opportunities, concerns, and problems related to the use of natural resources and to help land users make sound natural resource management decisions on private, tribal, and other non-federal lands.” 3 USDA and NRCS are conducting Landscape Conservation Initiatives to support farmers, ranchers, and foresters to improve the environment and support agriculture. They have an interactive map on their website where you can readily view initiatives in your state.
Private Landowner Network (http://www.privatelandownernetwork.org/Grant-and-Assistance-Programs/). They have a list of program and funding assistance for “landowners looking to improve or preserve their property.” Their resource list comprises all fifty states with the “resources you need to make smart decisions about the future of your land, while gaining valuable tax advantages in the process.
CAUV-Current Agricultural Use Value is another tax-incentive based option to create pollinator habitat. CAUV “is a differential real estate tax assessment program”4 where farmland is taxed according to its agricultural value, not the full market value of the land. “Current agricultural use values for taxing farmland are determined by calculating the farm’s projected gross income from agricultural production, subtracting projected non-land production costs to get the farm’s net income, then dividing this by an adjusted capitalization rate to arrive at the farmland’s agricultural worth.” Within states, the CAUV program is typically administered through that state’s Department of Taxation. County auditors supply the initial CAUV program application forms. All fifty states have “agricultural tax relief programs,” and provisions will vary across the states. For more information search for your state’s CAUV program to create pollinator habitat.
Farm Bill programs support the creation of pollinator habitat to “increase the abundance of pollen and nectar; expand availability of blooming plants through the growing season;” “add or protect potential nest sites;” and “provide refuge from pollinator-toxic pesticides.”5 The following programs offer financial and/or technical assistance:
EQIP- Environmental Quality Incentives Program
EQIP provides financial and technical assistance to eligible producers to help offset the cost of implementation of NRCS-approved conservation practices. Payment rates developed each fiscal year are based on the estimated incurred cost and potential income foregone resulting from practice implementation. The 2014 Act eliminated the WHIP program but incorporated WHIP priorities into EQIP including a requirement that at least 5% of available financial assistance funds be targeted to development of wildlife habitat, which includes pollinators.
Contact NRCS State or local office: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/national/programs/financial/eqip/
CRP-Conservation Reserve Program
50% cost-share for establishing permanent cover and conservation practices, and annual rental payments for land enrolled in 10- to 15-year contracts. Additional financial incentives are available for some practices. CRP is administered by FSA. NRCS provides conservation planning and supports practice implementation. Contact NRCS or FSA State or local office: http://www.fsa.usda.gov/programs-and-services/conservation-programs/index
CREP- Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program
Annual payment plus cost-share of up to 50% of the eligible costs to install the practice. CREP contracts require a 10- to 15-year commitment to keep lands out of agricultural production. CREP is administered by FSA. NRCS provides technical assistance. Contact NRCS or FSA State or local office: http://www.fsa.usda.gov/programs-and-services/conservation-programs/index
CSP-Conservation Stewardship Program
Annual payments to compensate a participant for installing and adopting additional conservation activities, and improving, maintaining, and managing existing conservation activities across the entire agricultural operation in a manner that increases or extends the conservation benefits in place at the time the contract offer is accepted by NRCS. Supplemental payments to a participant receiving annual payments, who also agrees to adopt or improve a resource-conserving crop rotation as defined by NRCS to achieve beneficial crop rotations as appropriate for the eligible land of the participant 5-year contracts renewable for another 5 years. Contact NRCS State or local office: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/national/programs/financial/csp/
ACEP- Agricultural Conservation Easement Program
For agricultural land easements, NRCS contributes up to 50% financial assistance; up to 75% on grasslands of special environmental significance. For wetland easements, NRCS may pay 100% of the value for a permanent easement and 75% for 30-year easements. NRCS can also help with costs associated with recording the easement. Additionally, NRCS may pay between 75–100% of the restoration costs on a permanent easement; and 50–75% of the restoration costs on a 30-year easement. Contact NRCS State or local office: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/national/programs/easements/acep/
If you want to help your honey bees and native pollinators by providing them with Mother Nature’s blooming bee forage, it will take time, effort, and work on your part. It is very easy to cut, burn, mow, and plow under the ecosystem. It will take work and effort to restore it, including “paperwork.” Pollinators will thank you for your effort. Your honey crop will increase. Your honey bees will be healthier. Crop yields to neighboring pollinator habitat will increase. Be aware, however, of planting pollinator habitat in soil saturated in systemic pesticides, as the systemic pesticides will be trans-located from the soil into the bee attractive plants in your pollinator habitat. Also, be aware of pesticides drifting onto your pollinator habitat. We all need to plant pollinator forage, but we do not want to create “killing fields” due to systemic pesticide residues, and pesticide drift. Check out the programs described here, determine what will work for you and your land. Plant pollinator habitat!
1 USDA Biology Technical Note No. 78, 2nd Ed., Using the 2014 Farm Bill Programs for Pollinator Conservation, May 2015, page 1
2 Ibid., page 1
3 USDA, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Technical Assistance, http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/national/programs/technical/
4 The Ohio State University Extension Fact Sheet, CDFS-1267-99, Land Use Series, Jeffers, Greg and Libby, Larry, http://ohioline.osu.edu/cd-fact/1267.html
5 USDA Biology Technical Note No. 78, 2nd Ed., Using the 2014 Farm Bill Programs for Pollinator Conservation, May 2015, page 2
Guide to Farm Bill financial programs http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/ar/programs/financial/
Pollinator Stewardship Council, Inc.
1624 Idlewood Ave., Akron, OH 44313