March 16, 2020
A cattle rancher monitoring her herd. Photo credit: USDA.
Have you or someone you work with considered signing up for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)? This working lands conservation program helps farmers and ranchers pay for conservation practices – like improving irrigation efficiency, restoring pasture, or nutrient and pest management – on their land, and deadlines are coming up soon!
EQIP signup deadlines vary by state and while some may have already passed, there are many more deadlines coming up at the end of March or even later in the Spring.
First, make sure your farm is registered with the Farm Service Agency (FSA). Once that is accomplished, you will need to speak with the conservationists at your county Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) office about your application for EQIP. [Check out this site to locate your nearest FSA and NRCS service centers]
Farmers can receive EQIP payments to help cover the costs associated with planning, design, materials, equipment, installation, and maintenance of conservation improvements and there are specific EQIP programs for organic farms, high tunnels, and wildlife habitat conservation. EQIP is a competitive program, and NRCS is using a new tool this year to rank farmer’s applications by these four criteria:
There is even an advance payment option for historically underserved EQIP participants! With advance payment, at least 50 percent of up-front costs are covered to help pay for materials for socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers, new and beginning farmers, veterans, and those with limited resources. All too often, costs get in the way of good conservation, and the EQIP advance payment option aims to get past that hurdle. [You can learn more about the program on the NRCS website]
If you are interested in signing up for EQIP or the EQIP advance payment option, you should reach out to your local NRCS office as soon as you can! You are also welcome to browse our EQIP information page to learn more.