USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service provided more than $33 million through more than 2,000 contracts with Iowa farmers and landowners in fiscal year 2012 through two of USDA's most popular farm bill financial assistance programs -- the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, or EQIP, and the Conservation Stewardship Program, or CSP.
EQIP, a voluntary conservation program, promotes agricultural production and environmental quality. Iowa NRCS obligated more than $25.7 million through 1,665 EQIP contracts covering 165,000 acres to farmers in all 99 counties. This program offers financial and technical assistance to install or implement structural, vegetative and management practices on eligible agricultural land. Examples of typical EQIP conservation practices include terraces, residue management (no-till), grassed waterways, waste storage facilities, grade stabilization structures, prescribed grazing and nutrient and pest management. Several landscape Initiatives are included in Iowa's total EQIP obligation, including the Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative, Organic Initiative and National Water Quality Initiative. These initiatives accounted for nearly $9 million of Iowa's total EQIP funding. In addition, more than 10% of Iowa's EQIP funding went to "historically underserved" landowners, which includes socially disadvantaged, beginning and limited resource producers.
EQIP highlights: In Iowa, Dubuque County led the state in EQIP funding with more than $1.46 million in financial aid, including 9,084 acres. Wayne County was a close second in funding with $1.43 million, treating 4,110 acres. Winneshiek County was third with just over $1 million, treating 1,378 acres.
Iowa County led the state in EQIP acres treated with 15,705. Davis County's 61 total EQIP contracts led all Iowa counties.
The other program, CSP, is a voluntary conservation program that encourages producers to comprehensively address resource concerns by undertaking additional conservation activities while improving, maintaining and managing existing conservation activities. CSP pays participants for conservation performance; the higher the performance, the higher the payment. In 2012, Iowa NRCS obligated more than $7 million through 552 CSP contracts covering 287,899 acres.
CSP highlights: Pocahontas County led the state with $872,336 in CSP assistance through 50 contracts on more than 23,000 acres. Floyd County finished with more than $724,000 in aid through 23 contracts on more than 13,000 acres. Winneshiek County was third funding with $355,573 through 51 contracts on 14,649 acres.
For more details about Iowa NRCS conservation programs, visit the NRCS website.