Iowa farmers received more than $21.3 million in financial assistance and incentive payments through EQIP (Environmental Quality Incentives Program) in fiscal year 2007. Under EQIP, the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service, or NRCS, helps farmers apply conservation practices that optimize environmental benefits on working agricultural lands.
In 2007, Iowa NRCS received 3,156 EQIP applications; 1,511 of those applicants, or 48%, were awarded assistance. There were 1,645 unfunded applications requesting $22.8 million in assistance through EQIP.
"EQIP is a popular conservation program for Iowa producers," says Iowa NRCS State Conservationist Rick Van Klaveren. "This was another great year in terms of EQIP contracts and allocations."
What are the most popular practices?
Primary conservation practices applied in the 2007 EQIP include waste storage facilities, terraces, nutrient management, grade stabilization structures, prescribed grazing incentives, fences for livestock grazing systems, pesticide management and grassed waterways.
Of the $21.3 million in payments, $19.9 million, or about 93%, went to local Iowa NRCS offices. The other $1.4 million was allotted to special projects across the state. "The majority of the EQIP funds help implement local EQIP projects to address locally identified issues," says Van Klaveren.
Harrison County in western Iowa received the largest county allocation in 2007 with $611,292 for placing conservation on 4,230 acres through 43 EQIP contracts. Next was Sioux County in northwest Iowa with $578,680 that covered 4,511 acres through 34 contracts. The third largest Iowa county in terms of 2007 EQIP financial assistance was Allamakee County in northeast Iowa with $535,451, covering 579 acres in 16 contracts.
Some special projects were funded in 2007
Notable special projects to receive EQIP funding in 2007 include:
- $288,311 for the Rathbun Lake Special Project to address water quality issues
- $55,100 to Agren, Inc. through a Conservation Innovation Grant to educate and train firefighters over a three-year period in western and southern Iowa to plan and conduct safe, ecologically-beneficial prescribed fires
- $436,056 to 43 southeast Iowa producers to seed down switchgrass for use as a biomass energy crop and for other alternative energy uses
- $600,000 to develop comprehensive nutrient management plans
EQIP was originally established under the 1996 Farm Bill. It provides technical and financial assistance to landowners to voluntarily address soil, water and related natural resource concerns on private lands.