ORIGINALLY WRITTEN GARY SCHILER / MARION COUNTY NRCS
The Natural Resources Conservation Service in Kansas has received its new fiscal year Environmental Quality Incentives Program funding allocation and has announced a cutoff date of Jan. 20, for applications to be considered for FY-2006 cost-sharing.
EQIP is the cost-sharing program that brings the most dollars to Marion County for conservation practice completion.
In 2004, Marion County received nearly $123,000 for long-term conservation contracts. Last year, Marion County received more than $236,000 for water quality practices, livestock waste systems, pasture improvement, erosion control, and preventing sedimentation of Marion Reservoir.
Like last year, producers who apply for EQIP will be filling out a self-assessment tool that provides a clear indication of what natural resource concerns they have, what they can accomplish, and what they need to do to qualify for the program.
The self-assessment booklet asks questions about grazed range and pasture, livestock waste, cropland, streambank and forestland. Producers will answer questions that apply to their operation.
In Kansas, EQIP funds help farmers and ranchers install conservation practices that improve and protect Kansas’s priority natural resource concerns.
One of the largest programs in the 2002 farm bill, EQIP is a voluntary conservation program that promotes environmental quality and helps producers to meet local, state and federal regulations.
EQIP funds can be used to help a producer implement practices that help with eligibility into the Conservation Security Program.
In 2005, a small portion of Marion County was involved with the CSP, but the contracts totaled nearly $250,000-so using EQIP funds now to address resource concerns may pay dividends in the future.
The FY-2006 Kansas EQIP eligible priority natural resource concerns are as follows:
- Air quality: objectionable odors;
- Forestland health: productivity, health, vigor;
- Grazing lands health: productivity, health, vigor and noxious or invasive weeds, inadequate water supply.
- Sedimentation of federal reservoirs: soil erosion, streambank;
- Water quality: excessive suspended sediment and turbidity in surface water;
- Soil quality: organic matter depletion;
- Water quality: concentrated, non-confined animal waste;
- Water quality: confined-animal waste;
- Water quality: nutrients, pesticides, suspended sediment;
- Water quantity: inefficient water use on irrigated land; aquifer overdraft.
Agricultural producers interested in participating in EQIP need to apply soon at the local NRCS office or USDA Service Center in Marion.
NRCS conservationists will meet with each producer to develop a plan that addresses his or her resource concerns over a two- to 10-year schedule. Field surveys are generally needed to develop accurate plans, so please apply right away so NRCS personnel have time to service your application.
Information about 2006 EQIP is available at your local USDA service center.