USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service provided more than $31 million in conservation funding to Iowa farmers in fiscal year 2013 through two of the most popular USDA farm bill financial assistance programs -- the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, or EQIP, and the Conservation Stewardship Program, or CSP.
Jason Johnson, public affairs specialist for USDA/NRCS in Iowa, provides the following summary of soil and water conservation efforts by farmers and landowners who used these programs in 2013.
EQIP is a voluntary soil conservation program promoting ag production and environmental practices
EQIP is a voluntary conservation program that promotes agricultural production and environmental quality. Iowa NRCS obligated nearly $27.3 million through 1,462 contracts covering about 139,000 acres to farmers in all 99 counties. Through EQIP, farmers can choose from a conservation practice list developed at the county level to treat local resource concerns. Examples of EQIP conservation practices include terraces, grassed waterways, residue management (no-till or strip till), animal waste facilities, cover crops, prescribed grazing systems, and nutrient and pest management.
Iowa's EQIP totals include three Landscape Initiatives -- the Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative, or MRBI, the National Water Quality Initiative, or NWQI, and the Driftless Area Landscape Conservation Initiative, or DALCI. These initiatives accounted for about $7.6 million of Iowa's 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.
* Delaware County led the state in EQIP funding with more than $1.9 million in financial aid.
* Iowa landowners planted cover crops on 92,753 acres with EQIP assistance.
* EQIP funded 46 beginner farmer contracts worth $2.46 million.
CSP is a voluntary soil conservation program that encourages farms and landowners to "think outside the box"
CSP is a voluntary conservation program that encourages farmers to comprehensively address natural 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 2013, Iowa NRCS obligated more than $3.8 million through 381 contracts covering 175,346 acres.
* Jackson, Washington and Winneshiek counties led Iowa with 18 contracts each.
* Floyd County led in CSP funding with $959,735, followed by Pocahontas County with $915,585.
* Tama County led in acres treated with 7,399, followed closely by Pocahontas (7,252) and Jackson (7,233).
More information about Iowa NRCS conservation programs is available online.