Many are still in the very early stages of recover from this devastating storm and we continue to gather and share information on available assistance as it becomes available. Check the Florida Land Steward events calendar for upcoming meetings where information on recovery assistance is being shared by the agencies providing it:
POST-STORM RECOVERY ASSISTANCE AVAILABLE THROUGH USDA NATURAL RESOURCES CONSERVATION SERVICE FOR AG LAND DAMAGED BY HURRICANE MICHAEL
Florida farmers and ranchers who suffered damage to working lands and livestock mortality due to Hurricane Michael are encouraged to sign up for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) through the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).
Agricultural producers in Bay, Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, Leon, Liberty, Wakulla, and Washington Counties are eligible to apply for assistance. The first sign-up period ends Nov. 16, 2018. A second sign-up period will end Dec. 14, 2018. This assistance is available to individual farmers and ranchers to aid in recovery efforts on their properties and does not apply to local governments or other entities.
Conservation practices available through EQIP can protect your land from erosion, support disaster recovery and repair, and can help mitigate loss from exceptional storm events in the future. Farmers and ranchers seeking financial and technical assistance through EQIP should visit their local NRCS office to sign up. Bonifay, Marianna and Quincy field offices are open to serve producers in Calhoun, Franklin, Gulf and Liberty counties until Blountstown Field Office is repaired.
For more information on NRCS and the EQIP program, visit the Florida NRCS website. For more information on disaster assistance programs for farmers and ranchers, visit farmers.gov/recover
USDA FARM SERVICE DISASTER ASSISTANCE FOR FOREST, CROP, AND LIVESTOCK LOSSES
The USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) administers many safety-net programs to help producers recover from eligible losses, including the Livestock Indemnity Program, the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program, Emergency Forest Restoration Program and the Tree Assistance Program. The FSA Emergency Conservation Program provides funding and technical assistance for farmers and ranchers to rehabilitate farmland damaged by natural disasters. Producers located in counties that receive a primary or contiguous disaster designation are eligible for low-interest emergency loans to help them recover from production and physical losses. Compensation also is available to producers who purchased coverage through the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program, which protects non-insurable crops against natural disasters that result in lower yields, crop losses or prevented planting. USDA encourages farmers and ranchers to contact their local FSA office to learn what documents can help the local office expedite assistance, such as farm records, receipts and pictures of damages or losses.
Find your USDA Service Center contacts at: https://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov/locator/app
Producers with coverage through the federal crop insurance program administered by the Risk Management Agency should contact their crop insurance agent. Those who purchased crop insurance will be paid for covered losses. Producers should report crop damage within 72 hours of damage discovery and follow up in writing within 15 days.
ASSESSING HURRICANE DAMAGED TIMBER
In addition to timber value and infrastructure losses, many forest landowners are also concerned about other potential problems, such as bark beetles and wildfire, which could become issues in coming months. For more on assessing damaged or destroyed timber stands, available assistance, and tax implications, see http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/fr154 (updated last week)
See the UF/IFAS Disaster Preparation & Recovery site for guides to post-disaster water and food safety, preparing insurance claims, repairs, landscape cleanup, and more: http://disaster.ifas.ufl.edu/
ASSISTANCE HELPS FARMERS, RANCHERS CONSERVE NATURAL RESOURCES
Application deadline for financial assistance November 2
Florida farmers, ranchers and forest owners can apply until Nov. 2 for financial and technical assistance from USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) for fiscal year 2019 funding. The application deadline applies to the following EQIP-funded initiatives:
- Organic Producer Initiative
- Seasonal High Tunnels
- Energy Initiative
- Longleaf Pine Initiative
- Working Lands for Wildlife: Quail
- Conservation Activity Plans
Family Forests – Portraits of Private Land Stewardship in Florida by Chris Demers, UF/IFAS School of Forest Resources and Conservation. This full-color publication puts a face on private forest stewardship in our great state, and provides ample references and resources that can assist with land management efforts. $12.95, available at the UF/IFAS Extension Bookstore online at:
PRESCRIBED BURN ASSISTANCE AVAILABLE FROM WILDLAND RESTORATION INTERNATIONAL
Assistance available to landowners in the counties of Levy, Alachua, Putnam, Marion, Flagler, Volusia, Lake, Sumter, Hernando, Polk, Osceola, Manatee, Hardee, and Highlands.
Wildland Restoration International (WRI) is excited to announce prescribed burn assistance to landowners participating in USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) cost share programs. The organization has been awarded funding from the Endowment for Forestry and Communities to help landowners implement prescribed burning practices funded by the NRCS. WRI representatives are available to meet onsite with landowners to discuss their goals and assist with prescribed burn prescription and implementation.
WRI is also interested in providing educational workshops for landowners interested in learning more about prescribed burning topics. They also want to encourage the formation of landowner associations or cooperatives to help landowners work together to facilitate the safe and effective use of prescribed fire on their lands.
WRI is funded to assist landowners in the counties of Levy, Alachua, Putnam, Marion, Flagler, Volusia, Lake, Sumter, Hernando, Polk, Osceola, Manatee, Hardee, and Highlands. Landowners in these counties, with a NRCS contract that includes prescribed burning, are encouraged to contact WRI to learn more about these services:
Ryan Kennelly, Fire Program Coordinator
Phone: (352) 373-0550
AIR POTATO PATROL CITIZEN SCIENCE PROJECT
The Air Potato Patrol Citizen Science project is looking for volunteers at https://airpotatobeetle.com/. This collaborative project between University of Florida IFAS Extension and Florida Dept. of Agriculture and Consumer Services seeks to educate residents on how to identify and better control air potato vines, and to gather data important to current research and air potato leaf beetle tracking.
The website contains educational videos and a blog to educate the participants and keep them updated. Volunteers will be asked to complete surveys to evaluate the level of air potato infestation and the presence of the air potato beetles in their test plots. For more information please visit the website or contact William Lester, UF/IFAS Extension, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
FLORIDA LAND STEWARD PARTNERS WEB MAP TOOL
Use this web tool to identify resources at a local watershed scale:
FLORIDA TREE FARM PROGRAM PREPARING FOR 2019 AUDIT
The Florida Tree Farm Program is preparing for a 2019 audit. The purpose of the audit is to verify that certified Tree Farms are compliant with the 2015-2020 Standards of Sustainability. The Program has been audited twice since 2010 without any issues. A relatively small sample of Tree Farms will be selected for the audit. The audit team will visit selected Tree Farms to review the landowners' management plans and conduct a brief interview. The inspector of the property and a Florida Tree Farm representative will accompany the auditor. We will begin the audit process in January 2019. Selected sample Tree Farm landowners will receive a phone call in early January 2019.
The Florida Tree Farm Program wants to make sure this audit goes well so it is extremely important for ALL certified Tree Farms in the state to have a current written management plan. Current means updated in the last 5 years. Contact your Florida Forest Service County Forester, consultant, or your Tree Farm District Representative if you need an update to your management plan, or if you have not been inspected since 2014.
ONGOING INITIATIVES / SERVICES / OPPORTUNTIES
To help restore the state’s northern bobwhite quail populations, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is asking private landowners to report sightings of bobwhite quail on their land. Report northern bobwhite quail sightings at MyFWC.com/QuailSighting
The FWC also seeks reports of these species:
- Report chipmunk sightings here: https://public.myfwc.com/hsc/chipmunk/getlatlong.aspx
- Report panther sightings here: https://public.myfwc.com/hsc/PantherSightings/getlatlong.aspx
- Report mink sightings here: https://public.myfwc.com/hsc/mink/getlatlong.aspx
- Report black bear sightings here: https://public.myfwc.com/fwri/blackbear/getlatlong.aspx
- Report southern hognose snake (Heterodon simus), short-tailed snake (Lampropeltis extenuata), and Florida pine snake (Pituophis melanoleucus mugitus) here:
SOMETHING BUGGING YOUR TREES? - CHECK OUT THE NEW DIAGNOSTICS FORUM
Hosted by a group of forest and tree health specialists with Southeastern universities and agencies, we are here to help identify pests and diseases in your forest or your backyard, and to recommend a solution, if appropriate. Join the group and report your tree health issue!
Visit the new Forest Health Diagnostic forum on Facebook:
FOREST STEWARDSHIP VIDEOS - VIEW AND SHARE!
All the latest videos are on the Florida Forest Stewardship Program home page:
LOOKING FOR INFORMATION ON A PARTICULAR TOPIC?
UF/IFAS SCHOOL OF FOREST RESOURCES AND CONSERVATION EXTENSION PROGRAMS
FORESTRY AND NATURAL RESOURCES WEBINARS
For a calendar of upcoming webinars in a variety of land management topics see:
SOUTHERN REGION EXTENSION FORESTRY
NEED A LOAN TO FUND CONSERVATION PROJECTS? CHECK OUT THE USDA FARM SERVICE AGENCY'S GUARANTEED CONSERVATION LOAN PROGRAM
The USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) guarantees loans to promote conservation practices on farms and ranches that help protect natural resources. The goal of FSA’s Conservation Loan (CL) program is to provide access to credit for farmers who need and want to implement conservation measures on their land, but do not have the “up front” funds available to implement these practices. For more information see this Conservation Loan Program Fact Sheet. Also see this table summarizing FSA farm loan opportunities.
The Conservation Contract Program is a program for eligible landowners that protects important natural resources and other sensitive areas while providing a debt management tool. A conservation contract is available to people with Farm Service Agency (FSA) direct loans secured by real estate. These individuals may qualify for a reduction of their FSA indebtedness in exchange for a conservation contract with a term of 50, 30 or 10 years. The conservation contract is a voluntary legal agreement that restricts the type and amount of development that may take place on portions of the landowner’s property. Contracts may be established on marginal cropland and other environmentally sensitive lands for conservation, recreation and wildlife purposes. For more information see this Conservation Contract Program Fact Sheet.