The Environmental Quality Incentives Program, offered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service, has several new options for agricultural producers and forest landowners to conserve energy, improve air quality, enhance organic operations, and achieve other environmental benefits.
"The purpose of EQIP is to help landowners and managers keep agricultural land productive by applying conservation practices to reduce soil erosion, improve soil quality, and protect water quality," says Terry Cosby Ohio state conservationist. "The conservation options available through EQIP now include additional conservation opportunities for specific types of farming and natural resource issues."
These EQIP options include:
• On-Farm Energy Initiative: helps producers conserve energy on their operations.
• Organic Initiative: helps certified organic producers or those working toward organic certification to install conservation practices on their land.
• Air Quality Initiative: helps producers improve air quality by establishing conservation practices that sequester carbon, mitigate odors, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This option is available to producers in Ashtabula, Butler, Clermont, Clinton, Cuyahoga, Delaware, Fairfield, Franklin, Geauga, Hamilton, Jefferson, Knox, Lake, Licking, Lorain, Madison, Medina, Portage, Stark, Summit, and Warren Counties.
EQIP is a voluntary program that provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers through contracts up to a maximum term of ten years in length. These contracts provide financial assistance to help plan and implement conservation practices that address natural resource concerns and for opportunities to improve soil, water, plant, animal, air and related resources on agricultural land and non-industrial private forestland. In addition, a purpose of EQIP is to help producers meet Federal, State, Tribal and local environmental regulations.
EQIP provides financial assistance for a variety of conservation activities, such as nutrient management, reduced tillage, field buffers, rotational grazing systems, and much more. The application deadline for this signup period is Feb. 21. To learn more or to apply for EQIP, contact your county NRCS office. An on-line office locator is available at http://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov/locator/app?agency=nrcs.