Nearly $18 million in financial assistance is available to Iowa agricultural producers to help them apply soil and water conservation practices on their farms through the USDA's Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). To be considered for the first round of funding selections for 2010, farmers must apply at local USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) offices by Jan. 29. EQIP is offered through a continuous signup, but NRCS periodically makes funding selections as program dollars allow.
"EQIP offers financial assistance to install conservation practices," explains Dave Brommel, EQIP coordinator for NRCS in Iowa. Statewide EQIP practices include, but are not limited to: grassed waterways, manure management facilities, terracing, pest management, ag drainage wellhead protection and pasture management. Other practices include tree planting, windbreaks, strip-cropping, conservation tillage, organic crop production and wildlife habitat management.
Conservation plans must be developed for an EQIP contract
Conservation plans must be developed for the entire area that will be included in the EQIP contract. EQIP was originally established under the 1996 Farm Bill and was reauthorized in the 2008 Farm Bill. It provides technical and financial assistance to landowners to voluntarily address soil, water and related natural resource concerns on private ag lands. Congress included new provisions in the 2008 Farm Bill, setting aside 5% of EQIP financial assistance dollars for beginning farmers and another 5% to assist socially disadvantaged farmers.
Livestock producers may qualify for EQIP assistance to handle and treat livestock waste resource concerns on existing facilities, adds Brommel. Manure storage and handling structures associated with new livestock facilities are not eligible for EQIP cost-sharing assistance.
For more information or to apply for an EQIP contract, contact your local USDA Service Center or go online to www.ia.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/stateeqip.html.