Indiana’s agricultural producers who want to improve natural resources and address resource concerns on their land are encouraged to sign up for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) through the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Jerry Raynor, NRCS State Conservationist, announced that December 21, 2018 will be the EQIP application deadline in Indiana.
“While we take EQIP applications throughout the year, applications received after December 21 will be considered in future announced application rounds. I encourage producers with resource concerns on their land to submit an application by the deadline,” 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, drainage water management, invasive plant control, and wildlife habitat improvement. Also included in this sign up are several special initiatives 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. NRCS provides assistance to producers through partnership agreements and through the following program contracts or easement agreements.
- Grasslands for Gamebirds and Songbirds (Benton, Clay, Daviess, Dekalb, Fountain, Gibson, Greene, Jackson, jasper, Jennings, Lagrange, newton, Noble, Pike, Ripley, Scott, Spencer, Steuben, Sullivan, Warrick, White Counties)
- Tri-State Western Lake Erie Basin Phosphorus Reduction Initiative (Adams, Allen, DeKalb, Noble, Steuben and Wells Counties)
- Southern Indiana Young Forest Initiative
- Big Pine Watershed Partnership (Benton, White, Warren, and Tippecanoe Counties)
- Indiana Watershed Initiative: The University of Notre Dame (Kosciusko, Newton, Jasper and Benton Counties)
- Soil Health on Reclaimed Mine Lands (Vigo, Clay, Sullivan, Greene, Knox, Daviess, Gibson, Pike, Dubois, Warrick and Spencer Counties)
- Improving Working Lands for Monarch Butterflies Partnership (statewide)
“Special initiatives target EQIP funds to geographical areas where there is a critical resource need allowing applicants to have a greater chance of getting funded,” said Raynor. “Applications will go in a targeted pool of funding instead of the general EQIP.”
In addition, EQIP offers financial assistance for payment of practices and conservation activities involving the development of plans appropriate for the eligible land. The conservation practice associated with plan development is known as a Conservation Activity Plan (CAP). EQIP applications for CAP are not required to be submitted by December 21; they may be submitted, accepted and considered for funding at any time.
Producers interested in EQIP should submit a signed application to the local NRCS field office. Applications submitted by the December 21st deadline will be evaluated for the funding period submitted. Participants in EQIP must meet eligibility requirements. NRCS staff will work with producers to determine eligibility and complete necessary worksheets and rankings in order for the applicant to compete for funding. Applicants must meet EQIP participant eligibility requirements by February 1, 2019 for an application submitted by December 21, 2018.
For more information about EQIP and other technical and financial assistance available through Indiana NRCS conservation programs, visit https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/in/programs/financial/eqip/ or contact your county’s District Conservationist https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/in/contact/local/.
Source: USDA Indiana Natural Resources Conservation Service