Farmers and ranchers interested in soil, water and wildlife conservation are encouraged to sign up now for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program. EQIP is available from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, and those interested in applying should sign up before Nov. 15.
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 to install conservation practices on agricultural land.
There are several options available to producers through EQIP, Derickson says. "EQIP is one of our most versatile programs," he adds. "It offers cost-share and technical assistance to apply conservation measures on cropland and 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, 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, he says.
EQIP has become one of the most widely applied conservation programs in Nebraska; enrolling more than 600,000 acres last year with more than 8 million acres currently under EQIP contract statewide. The goal of EQIP is to provide a financial incentive to encourage landowners to install conservation practices that protect natural resources, resulting in cleaner air, water and more wildlife habitat, according to Derickson.
You may file an EQIP application at any time, he points out, but the ranking of applications on hand to receive funding will begin Nov. 15, 2013, with a second round application ranking cutoff date of Jan. 17, 2014. However, NRCS cautions producers that all funding for EQIP in Nebraska could potentially be obligated by early 2014.
Producers will be required to attain a minimum ranking score to be accepted for the first round of funding. The more conservation work a producer agrees to install, the higher the ranking score, and the greater the probability of being approved for funding.
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.