CORRECTION: Environmental Quality Incentives Program Rule Comments Taken Until Feb. 17

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For Immediate Release

Contact:FPAC.BC.Press@usda.gov

 

USDA Invites Comment on Environmental Quality Incentives Program Rule

Gainesville, Fla. Dec. 17, 2019 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) seeks public comments on its interim rule through Feb. 17 for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). This program provides financial and technical assistance to help Ag producers plan and implement conservation practices on working lands.

 

The rule – now available on the Federal Register – takes effect upon publication and includes changes to the program prescribed by the 2018 Farm Bill. Submit comments through regulations.gov under Docket ID NRCS-2019-0020. All written comments will be publicly available on http://www.regulations.gov.  NRCS will evaluate public comments to determine whether additional changes are needed.

 

Changes to EQIP include:

  • Creating incentive contracts and payments for incentive practices to better support locally led conservation needs.
  • Requiring NRCS to offer an advance payment option for historically underserved producers.
  • Raising the payment cap for producers participating in the Organic Initiative to $140,000 for contracts entered between fiscal 2019 through 2023.
  • Expanding the Conservation Innovation Grant program, which is funded through EQIP, to include opportunities for On-Farm Conservation Innovation Trials and Soil Health Demonstration Trials.

The 2018 Farm Bill created incentive contracts, which address up to three priority resource concerns within targeted watersheds and other high priority landscapes. While typical EQIP contracts last five years, these contracts last five to 10 years.

The Farm Bill also enabled increased payments for priority practices, through which NRCS can designate up to 10 practices in each state to receive the higher rates.

 

Applying for EQIP

“The Environmental Quality Incentives Program gives farmers, ranchers and forest landowners the tools they need to improve their agricultural operations while conserving natural resources,” said Russell Morgan, NRCS state conservationist in Florida. Popular EQIP practices include nutrient management, forest stand improvement, prescribed grazing, irrigation efficiency improvement and cover crops. NRCS will make available $1.2 billion nationwide for interested producers in fiscal 2020.

 

EQIP applications are accepted on a continuous basis. If a producer’s application is funded, NRCS will offer an EQIP contract for financial assistance for the cost of implementing the practices. Payment rates for conservation practices are reviewed and set each fiscal year.

 

For more information on how to sign up for EQIP visit nrcs.usda.gov or contact your local NRCS field office.