Illinois farmers have until March 9 to complete applications for the fourth and final 2007 selection period for NRCS' Environmental Quality Incentives Program.
Illinois' total fiscal year 2007 EQIP allocation was $14.3 million. NRCS has committed $11.3 million in EQIP contracts, leaving $3 million available for additional EQIP contracts. Applications already submitted that did not meet ranking criteria requirements will be considered, as will applications that were incomplete.
All 2007 funds for the Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program, $479,000, are committed.
EQIP has a continuous sign-up process for applicants, according to NRCS State Farm Bill Coordinator Paula Hingson. Since last October, three cutoff dates have been issued and used to select qualifying applicants. "We're looking for producers who are ready for EQIP and have high-quality plans that are ready to go. If you've been ready or waiting to apply for the program and thought you'd missed the final cut-off, you might want to step forward and see if this conservation program would help address any soil or water-related problems you have on the farm," says Hingson.
Producers are urged to visit their local NRCS office to discuss issues, ideas, or resource-related problems. "NRCS staff is here to sit down, look at each producer's situation and help them develop a plan that will work for them and their operation. If the EQIP program looks like it will work and help cover expenses, we'll get an application submitted. If another program fits better, we'll take a look at that too," explains Hingson.
EQIP promotes agricultural production and environmental quality where farmers receive financial and technical assistance to help install structural conservation practices and to implement management systems that promote conservation.
To learn more about EQIP or to view ranking criteria and cost-share assistance rates, visit www.il.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/eqip/index.html.