EQIP, one of the largest programs in the 2002 farm bill, is a voluntary conservation program that promotes environmental quality and assists producers to meet local, state and federal regulations.
Some of the FY 2008 Kansas EQIP priority natural resource concerns are:
n grazing lands health?to improve productivity, health, and vigor of the grass;
n control noxious or invasive plants and address inadequate stockwater.
n soil condition?to reverse organic matter depletion.
n livestock waste?to address pollution controls required by KDHE.
n water quality?for nutrients, pesticides or suspended sediment in surface water.
Marion County producers have taken advantage of EQIP to carry out a significant amount of conservation on cropland and grassland.
Assistance is available to help producers implement no-till, build terraces, seed grass, install livestock waste systems, control trees and brush in pastures, spray sericea lespedeza, cross-fence pastures, install water developments, and a host of other beneficial practices where a resource concern exists.
Last year, Marion County received more than $322,000 in EQIP funds, with every application being fully funded. EQIP has been especially useful in the Marion Reservoir watershed to help keep sediment and nutrients out of the lake.
When farmers or ranchers apply for 2008 EQIP funding, they will be required to fill out a self-assessment worksheet. This worksheet is an educational tool that provides landowners 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 worksheet helps NRCS reduce the time to process applications so that more EQIP dollars are available for producers.
Producers should sign up now in order to allow time for field visits, completion of the self-assessment and application forms, and the development of a sound plan and schedule to guide the conservation work.
One valuable aspect of EQIP is that it is available to help address the unique circumstances and natural resource concerns of limited resource and beginning farmers and ranchers on their land.
In Kansas, such producers may receive a higher payment rate through EQIP for structural and vegetative practices.
After Nov. 2, NRCS will evaluate each application and prepare a final plan and contract. All contracts will be signed and obligated with producers by Jan. 25.
Agricultural producers interested in participating in EQIP can apply at any time at the NRCS office in the USDA Service Center in Marion.
In addition to those sources, information about 2008 EQIP is available on the Web site at www.ks.nrcs.usda. gov/programs/eqip/2008.