HURON - Department of Agriculture (USDA) officials announce October 20, 2017 as the batching date for applications for the popular Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) administered by the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).
Landowners seeking to address natural resource concerns on their property are encouraged to appy for participation in the USDA’s EQIP. As a voluntary program, EQIP offers landowners both financial and technical assistance for a wide range of practices, explains NRCS EQIP Coordinator Jennifer Wurtz, Huron, SD, “Anything from practices on cropland, cover crops, rotational cropland, no till practices, grassland practices such as prescribed grazing, water development, wildlife habitat and a specific initiative to develop honeybee habitat.”
The first step in addressing resource concerns through EQIP is to formulate a conservation plan. Plans should strive to improve soil health, water and air quality as well as other natural resources. Wurtz says NRCS conservation employees work one-on-one with landowners. “We provide technical assistance to help identify resource concerns that you may have on your operation. We offer ideas for different treatments because there may be a wide range of options to address the resource concerns on your operation. After that, then we look at the USDA programs that may fit your operation.”
The EQIP program provides financial and technical assistance to help farmers and ranchers voluntarily 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.
There are several initiative areas for additional emphasis: Honey Bee Pollinator, National Water Quality Initiative, Soil Health Initiative, Sage Grouse Initiative, and the Red River Basin Initiative. Operators or landowners interested in applying for the EQIP can fill out an application at any time. However the next batching date for fiscal year 2018 EQIP funding is Oct. 20, 2017. Wurtz encourages people to apply early. Applications are available online or at any USDA Service Center.
For information about technical assistance and conservation programs, visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/GetStarted. For more information about the EQIP or to apply, please contact your local NRCS office or visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/Programs/FinancialAssistance/EQIP