Nebraska farmers and ranchers interested in EQIP cost-sharing payments for conservation practices are encouraged to sign up soon. USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service reminds farmers and ranchers that Feb. 15 is the cutoff date to apply for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program.
EQIP is a voluntary conservation program available to private landowners and operators, says Craig Derickson, NRCS state conservationist in Nebraska. Through EQIP, farmers and ranchers may receive financial and technical help with conservation practices on agricultural land.
According to Derickson, there are several options available to producers through EQIP.
"EQIP is one our most versatile programs," he says. "It offers cost share and technical assistance to apply conservation measures on cropland, rangeland, as well as for animal feeding operations and establishing or enhancing wildlife habitat. There are special initiatives to help conserve water in the Ogallala Aquifer, help producers conserve energy on the farm or ranch, and provide assistance to convert to organic agriculture. NRCS staff can help landowners and operators sort out their EQIP options." EQIP has become the most widely applied conservation program in Nebraska with more than 7.7 million acres under contract. The goal of EQIP is to provide a financial incentive to encourage landowners to protect their natural resources, resulting in cleaner air, water and more wildlife habitat.
EQIP provides a good option for working lands. These contracts protect natural resources on land still in production and generating income.
Those interested in entering into an EQIP agreement may file an application at any time, but the ranking of applications on hand to receive funding will begin Feb. 15. Producers are encouraged to sign up soon since all funding for EQIP in Nebraska could potentially be obligated by April 1.
Conservation planning assistance is free and does not require participation in financial programs.
For more information about EQIP and the other available conservation programs visit your local NRCS field office or go to www.ne.nrcs.usda.gov.