Texas agricultural landowners interested in participating in the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) need to apply by Nov. 16, 2007, if they have not already done so to be eligible for the next round of funding, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

“Although EQIP is a continuous sign-up program, some producers may not have signed up yet,” said Don Gohmert, NRCS state conservationist for Texas. “We will rank all eligible applications received by the end of the ranking period on Nov. 16 for 2008 funding. There is a strong possibility that EQIP funds will become available in October.”

EQIP promotes agricultural production and environmental quality. Through EQIP, farmers and ranchers receive financial and technical assistance to help install conservation practices and to implement management systems that promote conservation. Financial assistance is on a cost-shared basis with the producer. The technical assistance is provided at 100 percent of the cost by NRCS.

According to Gohmert, there are a few changes in EQIP for 2008.

NRCS is adding another statewide resource concern to the program at the recommendation of the State Technical Committee. Funding will be provided in 2008 specifically for conservation practices that improve habitat for the pronghorn antelope in west Texas.

Also new in 2008 will be a process to streamline payments. Instead of the traditional percentage of cost rates, NRCS will offer flat-rate payments based on a schedule for each conservation practice. “Landowners will know up-front what the payment in dollars will be,” Gohmert said.

“One important component of EQIP that remains the same is the input needed from the local level to make EQIP address the most pressing resource concerns there,” Gohmert said. “Our local offices may be holding program development group and local working group meetings very soon to gather that input.” NRCS offices and local soil and water conservation district officials will have more information about local meetings.

To sign up for EQIP or to get more information, contact the NRCS office serving your county. Look in the phone book under “U.S. Government, Department of Agriculture,” or find your service center on the Web at http://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov/locator/app.

You can also get information about Texas NRCS conservation technical assistance and programs at http://www.tx.nrcs.usda.gov.