Feb 2, 2021USDA encourages growers to apply for federal conservation assistance
All growers interested in conservation are encouraged to submit their applications for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) for financial and technical assistance. Administered by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), EQIP applications will be screened and ranked on an ongoing basis, with the best projects receiving priority consideration.
EQIP provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers in order to address natural resource concerns and deliver environmental benefits. These include improved water and air quality, conserved ground and surface water, increased soil health, improved irrigation efficiency, reduced soil erosion and sedimentation, forest restoration and creating or enhancing wildlife habitat.
“In fiscal year 2020, we invested over $94 million in California’s farm, ranch and non-industrial forestland using the EQIP program,” said Carlos Suarez, state conservationist for NRCS California. “Investments were made primarily in forest restoration, water conservation, water quality, soil and rangeland health, air quality and wildlife habitat.”
Each EQIP application must include a conservation plan, co-developed by the landowner and the NRCS conservationist, spelling out the actions that will be undertaken to improve the natural resource condition being addressed and the timeline for doing so. The time needed to complete a conservation plan and process eligibility can vary, from a few weeks to more than a month, depending on the complexity of the farming operation and the number of requests for assistance.
If you have never worked with the USDA and don’t have a farm and tract number, you will need to make an appointment with the Farm Service Agency (FSA) at your local USDA Service Center to establish eligibility for USDA programs. You can find your service center by visiting Farmers.gov at: https://www.farmers.gov/
EQIP applications are accepted by NRCS year-round. The second batching period for Fiscal Year 2021 EQIP applications in California closes on March 3, 2021 with funding decisions to be made on March 17, 2021. The third batching period closes on June 9, 2021 with funding decisions to be made on June 23, 2021.