EQIP Deadline Approaching

If you are a farmer or rancher interested in soil, water, and/or wildlife conservation, sign-ups for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) are due on or before October 16, 2015.

EQIP is a voluntary conservation program available to private landowners and operators.  Farmers and ranchers may receive financial and technical help to install conservation practices on agricultural land.

There are several options available to producers through EQIP, including cost share and technical assistance to apply conservation measures on cropland and rangeland, animal feeding operations, and establishing or enhancing wildlife habitat.  NRCS staff are available to assist in determining the EQIP options available.


Deadlines Approaching for Farm Program Sign-Ups

As we approach the spring and the planting season, it is a good idea to take a long, hard look at the various programs available for assistance and their respective deadlines.  In chronological order:

Conservation Stewardship Program — The deadline for CSP sign-up is extended to Friday, March 13, 2015.  We’ve previously discussed CSP and the benefits that may accrue to applicants.  If you are interested, head over to your local NRCS office to complete the initial two-page application.

Environmental Quality Incentives Program — EQIP has rolling deadlines of March 20, April 17, and May 15.  EQIP is a voluntary working lands program offering farmers and ranchers cost-share funding and technical assistance.  EQIP now provides up to a 50% cost-share for beginning and limited resource farmers.  EQIP can help fund a number of projects, including high tunnels, organic conservation, and other conservation practices.  Like CSP, just head over to your local NRCS office for more information as it varies state by state.

Organic Production Survey — The survey is due April 3, 2015.  The survey is specifically for the organic sector, to determine growth, trends, and challenges.  The survey may be taken electronically, so feel free to review our previous article and let the USDA know what you think.


Nebraska NRCS assisting Nebraksa producers with blizzard livestock loss.

Remember last week when we discussed EQIP?  Well, the Nebraska NRCS has added a new element to EQIP — a special Livestock Mortality Initiative.  The Initiative provides technical and financial assistance to producers to dispose of livestock carcasses in a safe manner.  If a producer has already disposed of livestock, he or she may still apply for funds so long as the disposal meets NRCS technical requirements.  Note that technical and financial assistance will be available upon submission of an application; once funds are available, a contract will be drawn up and and payment completed once work is complete.

Due to the path of the blizzard, the Initiative is available only for producers in the Upper Niobrara White Natural Resources District which serves Box Butte, Dawes, Sheridan, and Sioux counties.  The deadline to sign-up for assistance is November 15, 2013.

What is EQIP?

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.