USDA Secretary Ann M. Veneman has announced that the additional $227 million for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) has been released to all states, Puerto Rico and the Pacific Basin.

This is a step towards implementing an improved, streamlined program that includes changes authorized in the 2002 farm bill and outlined in the July 24 Federal Register notice.

Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) state offices will receive allocated funding needed to provide financial and technical assistance to farmers, ranchers and tribes through EQIP for conservation practices that improve soil, water and air quality, wildlife habitat, and surface and ground water conservation on eligible agricultural land, including livestock operations.

“These funds will enable farmers and ranchers to enhance and protect our nation's soil, air and water resources for the future by implementing sound conservation practices today,” said Veneman. “Farmers and ranchers are the best stewards of the land and this administration continues its strong commitment in providing additional tools to enhance conservation efforts on working farmlands.”

Key factors used to determine the distribution include acres of cropland, acres of irrigated cropland, acres of rangeland, acres of tribal lands, number of animals and tons of animal waste produced.

Veneman announced earlier in August that an additional $200 million is being provided for general enrollment for EQIP in fiscal 2002 and up to an additional $25 million of EQIP funds in 2002 will provide technical and financial assistance for ground and surface water conservation.

Based on current applications, an additional $2.25 million of EQIP funds are being made available for water conservation activities in the Klamath Basin in California and Oregon. The balance of $47.75 million for the Klamath Basin will be released at a later date.

For more information, contact your local NRCS office or USDA Service Center, listed in the telephone book under U.S. Department of Agriculture, or on the Web at http://offices.usda.gov/.

Texas has $21.3 million in EQIP funds; New Mexico $6.2 million; and Oklahoma $5.4 million.