FAQ: I thought I could sign up for USDA’s EQIP program any time of the year. I heard on the radio that I have to go sign up by January 20 to be eligible for 2012. Please explain.
Answer: Iowa farmers must apply at local USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) offices by Jan. 20, 2012 to be considered for the first round of funding selections for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), says Dave Brommel, EQIP program coordinator for NRCS in Iowa.
EQIP is offered through a continuous signup, but NRCS periodically makes funding selections as program dollars allow. Last year USDA provided Iowa farmers $25 million to treat natural resource concerns through EQIP.
“Iowa agricultural producers applying for financial assistance through EQIP-funded special initiatives must apply by February 3,” says Brommel. These initiatives include the Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watershed Initiative (MRBI), Northern Prairie Migratory Bird Habitat Initiative (NPMBHI) and the Organic, High Tunnel and Energy initiatives.
Cost-share incentive for installing NRCS-approved practices
EQIP offers financial assistance to farmers for installing conservation practices. Statewide EQIP practices include, but are not limited to: grassed waterways, manure management facilities, terracing, pest management, ag drainage wellhead protection and pasture management. Other practices include tree planting, windbreaks, strip-cropping, conservation tillage, practices supporting organic crop production and wildlife habitat management.
Conservation plans must be developed for the entire area that will be included in the EQIP contract, says Brommel. “If you have questions are think you are interested in applying for either of these programs, go to our website for more information and go to your local NRCS office and ask questions,” he says. “Main thing is to contact your local NRCS office soon. Mark your calendar now, because the 2012 EQIP applications are due January 20; and the special initiative applications are due February 3.
Conservation plans needed for entire area to be included in EQIP
EQIP was originally established under the 1996 Farm Bill and reauthorized in the 2008 Farm Bill, he explains. It provides technical and financial assistance to landowners to voluntarily address soil, water and related natural resource concerns on private agricultural lands. Congress included new provisions in the 2008 Farm Bill, setting aside 5% of EQIP financial assistance dollars for beginning farmers and another 5% to assist socially disadvantaged farmers.
For more information or to apply for an EQIP contract, contact your local USDA Service Center or go online to www.ia.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/stateeqip.html. Also, be sure to read the USDA farm program updates that are posted periodically on the “Farm Program FAQ” section of the Wallaces Farmer website www.WallacesFarmer.com.