USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) accepts Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) applications year-round through a continuous sign-up process.

Currently, Local Work Group meetings are being held in all counties to set local funding priorities for EQIP. Farmers and ranchers eligible for the financial assistance program will have the opportunity to incorporate conservation practices that address resource concerns on their land.

“In 2009, NRCS partnered with farmers and ranchers to achieve an exceptional year for Conservation in Texas,” said Jon Weddle, program manager for NRCS in Lubbock. “NRCS provided over 64 million dollars for conservation through EQIP.”

The EQIP program, authorized in The Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (2008 Farm Bill) provides voluntary conservation programs for private landowners that promotes agricultural production and environmental quality as compatible goals, optimize environmental benefits, and helps to meet Federal, State, Tribal, and local environmental regulations.

Landowners who face serious threats to soil, water and related natural resources will have the opportunity to participate in the EQIP program to receive educational, financial and technical assistance to install or implement structural, vegetative and management practices to address natural resource concerns.

Weddle encourages producers to contact their local NRCS office in their county to develop a conservation plan as a first step in the application process.

“Landowners interested in EQIP funding should inquire now to secure eligibility for technical and financial assistance,” Weddle said.

Under the new farm bill, producers will have options for incentive payments to address comprehensive resource concerns such as:

• Residue Management

• Nutrient Management

• Integrated Pest Management

• Prescribed Grazing for Expired CRP

The types of priority practices that will be eligible for funding on the High Plains and South Plains regions under NRCS EQIP:

• Irrigation

• Water Quantity and Quality

• Invasive Species for Brush Management

• Wildlife Habitat

• Soil Erosion Control (wind and water)

For more information about the Texas NRCS EQIP program, call the USDA-NRCS office in your county, listed under USDA in the Yellow Pages, or access the information on the Texas NRCS website at www.tx.nrcs.usda.gov.