COLUMBUS, OH, Dec. 9, 2014 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is accepting new applications for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) from Ohio farmers and non-industrial private forest land owners who want to improve the natural resources on their land. Applications received by Friday, January 16, 2015, will be considered for funding this fiscal year.
A conservation plan created by the NRCS local conservationist and the EQIP applicant provides a foundation for the EQIP application. The conservation plan includes the natural resource concerns on the land under consideration, the conservation practices that will improve or enhance natural resources on that land, the schedule for carrying out the conservation practices in the plan, and the cost of the conservation practices.
For example, soil erosion caused by water leaving a bare field may negatively impact both soil and water quality. A conservation plan addressing these natural resource concerns documents the location and extent of this concern and the conservation practice or practices the farmer choses to put in place to improve soil and water quality. Several conservation practices used together as a management system provide more environmental benefits than a single conservation practice. In this example, the farmer may elect to use a no-till planting system to minimize soil erosion, plant a cover crop to improve soil quality, and use drainage water management structures to control sub-surface drainage and improve water quality.
Ohio NRCS received reduced funding for EQIP this year which will intensify the competition for application selection. Since EQIP is a voluntary program, an applicant may select to do as much or as little as they chose to address their natural resource issues. However, applications with multiple conservation practices provide a greater environmental benefit, increasing an application’s chance for selection. EQIP applications with conservation plans containing multiple conservation practices used in a system will outcompete applications without robust conservation plans.
Applications for EQIP submitted by entities, such as farmers applying as a corporation, must register with the Central Contractor Registration (CCR), a process that can take up to three weeks. Information about CCR requirements, including obtaining a Data Universal Number System (DUNS) number, is posted on the NRCS website at www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/farmbill
For more information about EQIP or other technical or financial assistance programs offered by NRCS, please contact your local service center: http://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov/locator/app?agency=nrcs