To be efficient farm and ranch managers we need to know every management tool available. One often overlooked is our local Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) office. Through the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) money is available for farmers and ranchers to make the most out of the land they have while conserving natural resources.
The Environmental Quality Incentives Program was reauthorized in the 2002 Farm Bill to provide a conservation program for farmers and ranchers that promotes agricultural production and environmental quality.
With the upcoming passage of the new Farm Bill, expect EQIP funding to continue. "A continuous signup is conducted at all USDA Service Centers in Arkansas," said Kalven L. Trice, state conservationist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). "When the new farm bill is passed, we could see a fast turnaround to fund EQIP projects. By submitting applications now, producers can ensure they meet future short notice deadlines."
EQIP offers financial and technical help to assist farmers and ranchers to implement management practices on agricultural land. Some of the EQIP conservation practices for 2008 are:
• Access roads
• Brush Management
• Fences (including electric fences)
• Pasture and hay land planting
• Ponds
• Stream crossing
• Irrigation systems
• Prescribed Grazing
• Various cattle watering programs
• Stream bank and shoreline protection
• Water wells
• Forest stand improvement
• Heavy livestock use area protection
• Pipelines to carry livestock water
“NRCS’s mottos is ‘Helping people help the land,’ and by having that personal, professional relationship with NRCS employees, it’s easier to stay up to date,” Molly Voeller, NRCS State Public Affairs Specialist, said.
EQIP may cost share up to 75 percent of the costs of certain conservation practices. Incentive payments may be provided for up to three years.
"Ranking periods are established and all applications received before the ranking period cutoff date are evaluated and ranked according to local ranking criteria.  
The number of contracts funded is based upon the available funding. Applications received after the cutoff date are held for ranking during the next ranking period," Trice explained.
In 2007 the total contracts filed for Arkansas' land owners was 1,273, with total payments totaling $18.8 million.
Applications for 2009 EQIP will begin early this summer. To contact your local NRCS office, see our directory listing on page 35.


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