Indianapolis, IN, October 4, 2018–Indiana’s agricultural producers who want to improve natural resources and address concerns on their land are encouraged to apply for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) through the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Jerry Raynor, NRCS State Conservationist, announced that while the future of the Farm Bill is uncertain, Indiana NRCS is still accepting applications for future funding rounds.
“We still don’t have a definitive word on Farm Bill funding, but we don’t want that to discourage our farmers and forestland owners from taking action. NRCS accepts EQIP applications throughout the year. I encourage producers with resource concerns on their land to submit an application in preparation for future deadlines,” Raynor explains.
EQIP is a voluntary conservation program available for agricultural producers. Through EQIP, NRCS provides financial and technical assistance to install conservation practices that reduce soil erosion and sedimentation, improve soil health, improve water and air quality, and create wildlife habitat.
Many applicants are interested in using funds to address soil erosion and water quality issues on their land; however, funds are also available for pasture and grazing land, confined livestock operations, organic producers, high tunnels, drainage water management, invasive plant control, and wildlife habitat improvement. Also included are several state and national initiatives that utilize EQIP funding including:
National Organic Initiative: NRCS provides financial payments and technical assistance to help producers implement conservation measures in keeping with organic production. Beginning, limited resource, and socially disadvantaged producers may obtain additional assistance.
National On-Farm Energy Initiative: NRCS provides agricultural producers with technical and financial assistance that quantifies how energy can be used more efficiently to reduce input costs, increase productivity and reduce air pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions. This initiative only offers assistance for 128 Conservation Activity Plans-Ag Energy Management Plans (AgEMPs) and certain energy conservation practices.
Monarch Butterfly Habitat Development Initiative (EQIP): The Monarch Butterfly Habitat Development Project is a multi-state effort focused on increasing monarch habitat on private lands through plantings of milkweed and nectar producing forbs as well as managing pesticide use in proximity to monarch habitat.
Working Lands for Wildlife Initiative 2.0 (EQIP): One goal of this initiative is to convert tall fescue and other non-native forages to native grasses and forbs and develop prescribed grazing plans to address the habitat needs of bobwhite quail and other grassland/shrub land species. This category is available statewide on land which overlaps one of the Indiana DNR C.O.R.R.I.D.O.R.S. priority areas. Another goal of this initiative is to develop and enhance habitat for the Blanding’s Turtle.
Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI): NRCS and partners work with producers and landowners to implement voluntary conservation practices that improve water quality, restore wetlands, enhance wildlife habitat and sustain agricultural profitability in the Great Lakes.
Resource Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) projects: RCPP promotes coordination between NRCS and its partners to deliver conservation assistance to producers and landowners. See a list of RCPP projects here: Indiana RCPP
“Targeted projects allow us to address specific natural resource concerns and provide a less competitive option for producers in these areas. Applicants don’t have to compete with all of the statewide EQIP applications for these projects, just those applying for each specific Initiative,” said Raynor.
Due to the uncertainty of the Farm Bill, there are limited EQIP initiatives that will be announcing application deadlines. Producers interested in future funding rounds of EQIP are encouraged to apply at their local NRCS field office. Participants must meet EQIP eligibility requirements. NRCS staff will work with producers to determine eligibility and complete necessary worksheets and rankings for the applicant to compete for funding.