AGRICULTURE

NRCS announces EQIP program signup for initiatives

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Farm Forum

Huron (NRCS) — Annually, applications for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) are batched for funding consideration. February 21, 2014, is the date by which an operator or landowner must sign an application at their local Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) office for Fiscal Year 2014 funding consideration, according to Jennifer Wurtz, EQIP Program coordinator, with the NRCS.

The EQIP program provides financial and technical assistance to help producers implement voluntary conservation practices to improve their natural resources. Payment is provided for a variety of practices to address resource concerns such as water quality, grazing land health and productivity, soil erosion and soil quality, and wildlife habitat development.

The NRCS offers several different initiatives across the state. One of the statewide initiatives is geared toward organic or transitioning to organic producers. NRCS also has initiatives for on-farm energy improvements, shelterbelt renovations, as well as one for seasonal high tunnels.

There are also several localized initiatives. The Mississippi River Basin Initiative (MRBI) is offered in the northeast part of the state. The Ogallala Aquifer Initiative (OAI) is offered in the south central part of the state. NRCS has the National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI) project northwest of Sioux Falls in the Skunk Creek Watershed. In Butte and Harding counties, NRCS is involved with creating or conserving habitat through the Sage Grouse Initiative (SGI).

“Applications for all NRCS conservation programs, including EQIP are accepted continuously, however the application batching date is February 21, 2014, for these initiatives,” Wurtz says. “Some of these initiatives apply only to certain areas in South Dakota, so I encourage any operator or landowner who may be interested in any of these initiatives to visit NRCS at their local USDA Service Center to see if they may be eligible.”

For more information about the EQIP, please contact your local NRCS office. For more information about technical assistance and conservation programs go to http://1.usa.gov/1cJ3fyQ.