NRCS cites Nov. 17 as deadline for EQIP applications

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service announced Nov. 17, 2017, as the first cut-off date to apply for fiscal year 2018 funds through the Environ­mental Quality Incentives Program.

NRCS accepts applications for EQIP on a continuous basis, but applications must be filed for these programs by Nov. 17 to be eligible for the next round of funding. Producers interested in EQIP should submit a signed application to the local NRCS field office.

“EQIP is the cornerstone program of NRCS, providing financial and technical assistance to help farmers and ranchers put proven and practical conservation practices on the ground,” said Eric B. Banks, state conservationist. “For 2017, Kansas NRCS obligated over $35 million in financial assistance contracts to Kansas producers.”

The EQIP program provides financial and technical assistance to help farmers and ranchers implement conservation practices to improve natural resources on working agricultural lands.

Payment is provided for a variety of practices to address resource concerns such as water quality, grazing land health and productivity, soil erosion and soil quality, and wildlife habitat development.

General categories

Applications can be received in the following general EQIP ranking categories:

• Forest Land Health: To assist producers to implement forestry practices to address plant productivity, energy, soil erosion and water quality resource concerns.

• Grazing Lands Health: To assist producers to implement grazing lands practices to address plant productivity, livestock water, and invasive plant pest resource concerns.

• Livestock Waste: To assist producers to implement conservation practices to address resource concerns associated with animal feeding operations.

• Sedimentation Above Federal Reservoirs: To assist producers with land located in watersheds above federal reservoirs to implement conservation practices to address water quality resource concerns.

• Soil Health: To assist producers to implement conservation practices that address soil organic matter, compaction, and moisture resource concerns.

• Water Quality: To assist producers to implement conservation practices to address water quality and soil erosion concerns.

• Water Quantity: To assist producers to implement water-saving conservation practices that address water quantity resource concerns on irrigated land.

• Wildlife habitat: To assist producers to implement conservation practices that address wildlife habitat resource concerns for aquatic and terrestrial wildlife species.

Special initiatives

The Nov. 17 application deadline also applies to the following special EQIP initiatives:

• Anderson Creek Wild­fire: To assist producers in remediating resource concerns resulting from the effects of a wildfire that occurred in Barber and Comanche Counties in March 2016.

• High Tunnel System: To help producers implement high tunnels that extend growing seasons for high value crops in an environmentally safe manner.

• Lesser Prairie-Chicken: To assist producers to implement conservation practices specifically targeted to improve the lesser prairie-chicken habitat while promoting the overall health of grazing lands.

• Monarch Butterfly Habitat Development Pro­ject: To assist landowners to establish milkweed and other plants critical to the iconic Monarch Butter­fly.

• Ogallala Aquifer: To assist producers to reduce aquifer water use, improve water quality, and enhance the economic viability of croplands and rangelands.

• On-Farm Energy: Producers work with an NRCS-approved Technical Service Provider to develop Agricultural Energy Management Plans or farm energy audits that assess energy consumption on an agricultural operation.

• Organic: To assist producers with installation of conservation practices on agricultural operations related to organic production. Producers currently certified as organic, transitioning to organic, or producers who are exempt based on the National Organic Program will have access to a broad set of conservation practices to assist in treating their concerns.

• National Water Quality: NRCS will work in priority watersheds to help farmers, ranchers and forest landowners improve water quality and aquatic habitats in impaired streams. NRCS will help producers implement conservation and management practices through a systems approach to control and trap nutrient and manure runoff.

“EQIP also helps address the unique circumstances of socially disadvantaged, veteran, limited resource, and beginning farmers and ranchers, who have natural resource concerns that need to be addressed on their land,” Banks said. “Qualify­ing Kansas producers compete separately and receive higher payment rates.”