Iowa farmers interested in reducing soil erosion, improving water quality, and creating wildlife habitat on their land have until Oct. 17 to be considered for funding through USDA's Environmental Quality Incentives Program, or EQIP, for fiscal year 2015.
Through EQIP, USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service provides financial and technical assistance to install conservation practices such as nutrient management, terraces, grassed waterways, cover crops, manure management facilities, and pasture management. EQIP, one of USDA's most popular conservation programs, is offered through a continuous signup, but NRCS periodically makes application selections as funding allows. Last year, NRCS provided more than $27 million in EQIP financial assistance to Iowa farmers.
EQIP provides financial assistance for specific practices
Larry Beeler, Iowa NRCS assistant state conservationist for programs, says it is important for farmers to get program applications in early. "Conservation plans must be developed for the area that is included in an EQIP contract," he says. "When farmers develop a complete conservation plan for their farm, it speeds up the application process and oftentimes practices are applied more strategically."
There are several EQIP initiatives included in the signup, where NRCS sets aside financial assistance for specific practices and producers. Examples include practices that improve on-farm energy, assist in the organic transition process, add wildlife habitat, and target certain practices such as seasonal high tunnels.
Iowa NRCS also sets aside 10% of the Iowa EQIP financial assistance program for the historically underserved, which include beginning farmers, socially disadvantaged farmers, limited resource producers, and veterans. Visit your local NRCS office today for more information about conservation planning and financial assistance to fund conservation practices on your farm, or go to www.ia.nrcs.usda.gov.