Agricultural Water Enhancement Program

AWEP as part of the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, promotes ground and surface water conservation and improved water quality on agricultural lands.

As authorized by Congress, this is not a grant program to eligible partners.

This is a program whereby approved, eligible partners
will enter into multi-year agreements with NRCS to promote ground and surface water conservation, or improve water quality on eligible agricultural lands.

Agency - Department of Agriculture

Established in 1862, the Department of Agriculture serves all Americans through anti-hunger efforts, stewardship of nearly 200 million acres of national forest and rangelands, and through product safety and conservation efforts. The USDA opens markets for American farmers and ranchers and provides food for needy people around the world.

Office - See Regional Agency Offices.

For more information on this and other related conservation programs, consult the local telephone directory where your land is located for location of the USDA service center.

For a list of NRCS State offices with telephone numbers and addresses, see appropriate Appendix IV of the Catalog.

Information is available on the internet at http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/awep.


Program Accomplishments

Not Applicable.

Uses and Use Restrictions

Technical assistance is provided for conservation planning, design and implementation of conservation practices for eligible participants.

Financial assistance is provided for implementation of structural, and land management practices.

Cost-share payments may be made to implement one or more eligible structural or vegetative practices.

Incentive payments can be made to implement one or more land management practices.

Eligibility Requirements

Applicant Eligibility

Partners representing agricultural producers who face serious threats to soil, water, and related natural resources, or who need assistance with complying with Federal and State environment laws.

A participant may be an owner, landlord, operator, or tenant of eligible agricultural lands or non-industrial forestlands.

Limited resource producers, small-scale producers, social disadvantaged individuals, federally recognized Indian tribal governments, Alaska natives, and Pacific Islanders are encouraged to apply.



Eligible partners include: Federally recognized Indian Tribes, States, units of local government, agricultural or silvicultural associations or other groups of such producers, or other nongovernmental organization with experience working with agricultural producers.

Beneficiary Eligibility

To be eligible the agricultural producers must be in compliance with highly erodible land and wetland conservation provisions and in compliance with the Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) payment limitations.

Credentials/Documentation

Evidence that applicant has control over land to be entered into contract and submits an acceptable conservation plan for the farm or ranch unit of concern that incorporates needed natural resource conservation practices and provide either a social security number or individual tax identification number of all proposed beneficiaries. Applicants claiming either limited resource producer or beginning farmer classification may be asked to provide documents to justify their claim. This program is excluded from coverage under OMB Circular No. A-87. This program is excluded from coverage under OMB Circular No. A-87.

Aplication and Award Process

Preapplication Coordination

Under AWEP, the NRCS enters into partnership agreements with eligible entities and organizations that want to promote ground and surface water conservation or improve water quality on agricultural lands.

After the Chief has announced approved AWEP project areas, eligible agricultural producers may submit a program application.

Each fiscal year, NRCS may make AWEP financial and technical assistance available to eligible owners and operators of agricultural lands who participate in approved AWEP project areas.



Partners may assist NRCS by identifying producers in the project area.

Partners may also assist producers in submitting applications for the program.

Environmental impact information is not required for this program.

This program is excluded from coverage under E.O.

12372.

Application Procedures

This program is excluded from coverage under OMB Circular No. A-102. This program is excluded from coverage under OMB Circular No. A-110. For each program year the Natural Resources Conservation Service issues a request for proposals through the Federal Register. Application procedures are outlined in the request for proposals.

Award Procedures

For each program year the Natural Resources Conservation Service issues a request for proposals through the Federal Register. Award procedures are outlined in the request for proposals.

Deadlines

Contact the headquarters or regional office, as appropriate, for application deadlines.

Authorization

The Food Security Act of 1985, Public Law 99-198, 16 U.S.C 3801.

Range of Approval/Disapproval Time

For each program year the Natural Resources Conservation Service issues a request for proposals through the Federal Register. Application deadlines are outlined in the request for proposals.

Appeals

A participant may appeal any adverse determination to the Chief of the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Renewals

Not Applicable.

Assistance Considerations

Formula and Matching Requirements

This program has no statutory formula.
Matching Requirements: Percent: 75.%. Conservation practices may be eligible for conservation payments up to 75 percent of the total cost of establishing the practice including costs of foregone income. Limited resource producers, social disadvantaged producers and beginning farmers and ranchers may be eligible for payments up to 90 percent of the approved practice cost.
MOE requirements are not applicable to this program.

Length and Time Phasing of Assistance

An agricultural producer may apply directly to NRCS for financial or technical assistance to implement agricultural water enhancement activities. Producers who apply directly to NRCS must be eligible for EQIP and selected applications will be subject to applicable EQIP requirements. Eligible partners enter into multi-year agreements with NRCS to promote ground and surface water conservation, or improve water quality on eligible agricultural lands. AWEP is intended to leverage investment in natural resources conservation along with services and non-Federal resources of other eligible partners. Eligible partners include: Federally recognized Indian Tribes, States, units of local government, agricultural or silvicultural associations or other groups of such producers such as an irrigation association, an agricultural land trust, or other nongovernmental organization with experience working with agricultural producers. Method of awarding/releasing assistance: lump sum.

Post Assistance Requirements

Reports

No program reports are required.

No cash reports are required.

Provide the NRCS agency representative with semi-annual and annual reports during the project period and a final project report that documents project accomplishments and goals achieved.

No expenditure reports are required.

Reports shall also address partner efforts to monitor and evaluate implementation of conservation activities included in NRCS program contracts within the approved project area.

Audits

In accordance with the provisions of OMB Circular No. A-133 (Revised, June 27, 2003), "Audits of States, Local Governments, and Non-Profit Organizations," nonfederal entities that expend financial assistance of $500,000 or more in Federal awards will have a single or a program-specific audit conducted for that year. Nonfederal entities that expend less than $500,000 a year in Federal awards are exempt from Federal audit requirements for that year, except as noted in Circular No. A-133. Natural Resources Conservation Service makes periodic random reviews of the operation and maintenance of the contract items during the life span of the conservation practice. Participants are subject to audit by the Office of Inspector General, USDA.

Records

Partnership Agreements and producer contracts are maintained in local NRCS office and Federal record centers for specified number of years.

Financial Information

Account Identification

12-1004-0-1-302.

Obigations

(Salaries) FY 12 $11,004,813; FY 13 est $11,365,200; and FY 14 est $12,000,000. (Direct Payments for Specified Use) FY 12 $47,753,597; FY 13 est $45,574,800; and FY 14 est $48,000,000

Range and Average of Financial Assistance

Conservation payments are limited to a maximum payment limitation per producer of $300,000 for the life of the 2008 Farm Bill.

Average contracts are estimated to be $40,841.

Regulations, Guidelines, and Literature

Request for proposals are announced in the Federal Register. Related program manuals, handbooks and leaflets are issued by NRCS.

Information Contacts

Regional or Local Office

See Regional Agency Offices. For more information on this and other related conservation programs, consult the local telephone directory where your land is located for location of the USDA service center. For a list of NRCS State offices with telephone numbers and addresses, see appropriate Appendix IV of the Catalog. Information is available on the internet at http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/awep.

Headquarters Office

Ronald Harris Natural Resources Conservation Service
PO Box 2890,
1400 Independence Ave SW, Washington, District of Columbia 20050 Email: Ronald.Harris@wdc.usda.gov Phone: 202-720-1853

Criteria for Selecting Proposals

1. Include high percentages of agricultural land and producers in a region or other appropriate area;
2. Result in high levels of applied agricultural water quality and water conservation activities;
3. Significantly enhance agricultural activity;
4. Allow for monitoring and evaluation by the partner;
5. Assist agricultural producers in meeting a regulatory requirement that reduces the economic scope of the producer s operation;
6. Achieve the project s land and water treatment objectives within 5 years or less;
7. Are from States with water quantity concerns where the proposal will:
a. Include conservation practices that support the conversion of agricultural land from irrigated farming to dryland farming;
b. Leverage Federal funds provided under the program with funds provided by partners;
c. Assist producers in States with high priority water quantity concerns, as determined by the agency. The high priority areas are located in the following regions: Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer, Everglades, Ogallala Aquifer, Puget Sound, Red River, Sacramento River Basin, and Upper Mississippi River Basin.
d. Include other factors and criteria as approved by the agency which help identify those proposals which best achieve the purposes of AWEP.



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