Iowa farmers interested in reducing soil erosion, improving soil and water quality, creating wildlife habitat, and addressing other resource concerns have until Oct. 20 to be considered for funding through USDA’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program for fiscal year 2018.
Through EQIP, USDA’s Natural Re-sources Conservation Service provides conservation planning and financial assistance to install conservation practices, such as nutrient management, terraces, grass waterways, cover crops, no-till, and manure management facilities.
EQIP, one of USDA’s most popular conservation programs, is offered through a continuous sign-up, but NRCS periodically makes application selections as funding allows. So far in fiscal year 2017, NRCS has provided nearly $23 million in EQIP financial assistance to Iowa farmers.
Paul Goldsmith, Iowa NRCS EQIP coordinator, says it is important for farmers to get program applications in early. “Conservation plans must be developed for the area 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.”
If a farmer applied for EQIP funds last year, but was not selected, Goldsmith recommends those applicants contact their local NRCS office if they wish to continue with the application.
Other programs under EQIP
Several EQIP initiatives are included in the sign-up, 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 monarch butterfly habitat, and target certain practices, such as high-tunnel systems.
Iowa NRCS also sets aside 10% of the Iowa EQIP financial assistance program for the historically underserved, including beginning farmers, socially disadvantaged farmers, limited-resource producers, tribal farmers and military veterans.
Visit your local NRCS office today for information about conservation planning and financial assistance to implement more conservation on your farm, or go to ia.nrcs.usda.gov.
Who’s eligible to apply?
Agricultural producers and owners of non-industrial private forestland are eligible to apply for EQIP. Eligible land includes cropland, rangeland, pastureland, non-industrial private forestland and other farm or ranch land. Applicants must:
• control or own eligible land
• comply with adjusted gross income (AGI) provisions
• be in compliance with the highly erodible land and wetland conservation requirements
• develop an NRCS EQIP plan
Applicants are responsible for completing and filing all application and eligibility paperwork as required. If funded, participants are required to sign a contract and agree to implement the planned conservation practices to NRCS standards and specifications as scheduled.
Source: Iowa NRCS