If you have an interest in soil, water, and wildlife conservation, Nebraska NRCS is now accepting applications for its EQIP program.
What is EQIP?
EQIP stands for Environmental Quality Incentives Program. It is a voluntary program designed to assist owners of land in agriculture or forest production in soil, water, and wildlife conservation. The owner of the land enters into a contract with a maximum term of ten years (although most are three to four years); the contracts provide financial assistance via cost-sharing to plan and implement conservation practices that are appropriate for the land and the owner’s conservation goals.
How does EQIP work?
EQIP applications are subject to a competitive process, in which the applications are ranked. Nebraska offers special incentives for water conservation in the Ogalalla Aquifer, energy conservation, and conversion to organic production. How the ranking is determined varies by state.
Does EQIP assist beginning farmers and ranchers?
Absolutely. In fact, if all other application requirements are met, beginning farmers, socially-disadvantaged farmers, and limited-resource farmers may receive greater financial assistance of 25% above the applicable cost-share percentage. What this means is if a resource practice has a cost-share of 50%, a beginning farmer or rancher will receive 75% cost-share from EQIP.
Additionally, five percent of EQIP funding is set aside for beginning farmers and ranchers and another five percent is set aside for socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers.
Can I only apply once?
No. As long as you meet the eligibility criteria, you may continue to apply for EQIP funds.
Can I receive unlimited monetary assistance?
Smart question but the answer is no. Payments are limited to $300,000 for all contracts entered into during a six year period. Payments for technical assistance are excluded from the $300,000 limitation. Further, payments for organic production may not exceed $20,000 per year or $80,000 during any six year period.
If NRCS determines your project has special environmental significance, an applicant may petition the NRCS Chief for the payment limitation to be raised to $450,000.
When are applications due?
Nebraska applications can be accepted at any time but ranking for applications on hand will begin on November 15, 2013. A second round of ranking has a cut-off date of January 17, 2014.