USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Assistant State Conservationist Mickey Black reminds agriculture producers that the first ranking period cut-off date for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) is February 3, 2012.  Producers interested in EQIP should submit applications to their local county NRCS offices so their applications can be considered during the first ranking period of 2012.

EQIP — one of the largest programs in the Farm Bill — is a voluntary conservation program that promotes environmental quality and assists producers to meet local, state and federal regulations.

"EQIP is a valuable tool to help agricultural producers implement conservation practices that provide environmental benefits to help sustain agricultural operations," said Black.

EQIP is a continuous sign-up program that allows landowners or operators to apply for financial and technical assistance for the application of specific conservation practices; but the deadline for the first 2012 funding is February 3, 2012.

Contracts are offered periodically depending on budgetary allocations. Applications made after the deadline will be considered in the next funding cycle. Higher priority will be given to those applications that address national, state and local priorities and provide higher cost efficiency.

For more information, including eligibility requirements, producers should call their local USDA Service Center office today.  Service center locations and program information can be found on the Texas NRCS Web site at www.tx.nrcs.usda.gov.