DES MOINES, IA, Sept. 12, 2018 – Iowa farmers interested in reducing soil erosion, improving soil health and water quality, creating or protecting wildlife habitat, and treating other resource concerns on their land have until Oct. 19 to be considered for priority funding through USDA’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) for fiscal year 2019.
Through EQIP, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) provides conservation planning and financial assistance for conservation practices such as no-till, cover crops, nutrient management, terraces, grassed waterways, manure management facilities, and pasture management.
EQIP, one of USDA’s most popular conservation programs, is offered through a continuous signup, but NRCS periodically makes application selections as funding allows. In fiscal year 2018, NRCS provided a record $31 million in EQIP financial assistance to Iowa farmers.
Paul Goldsmith, EQIP coordinator for Iowa NRCS, says his agency provides EQIP assistance for non-traditional conservation practices through statewide initiatives, too, including habitat for pollinators such as bees and monarch butterflies, high tunnels, on-farm energy, and organics.
Iowa NRCS also sets aside 10 percent of the Iowa EQIP financial assistance program for the historically underserved, which include beginning farmers, socially disadvantaged farmers, limited resource producers, Tribal farmers and veterans.
Goldsmith says conservation plans through NRCS must be developed for the area included in an EQIP contract. “It is important for farmers to get applications completed early to speed up the practice implementation process, and to apply conservation more strategically,” he said.
If a farmer applied for EQIP funds last year, but was not selected, Goldsmith recommends those applicants contact their local NRCS office if they wish to continue with the application.