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Indiana NRCS Encourages Farmers to Start EQIP Application Early
Indiana Ag Connection - 10/22/2020

Indiana's agricultural producers who want to improve natural resources and address concerns on their land are encouraged to sign up early for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) through the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). While the application deadline is not currently set, Jerry Raynor, NRCS State Conservationist, anticipates an application deadline in late December.

"While we take EQIP applications throughout the year, those not submitted by deadlines are deferred for future consideration. I encourage producers with resource concerns on their land to work with their local district conservationist as soon as possible to get the process started, ensuring your application is submitted in a timely manner," Raynor said.

EQIP is a voluntary conservation program available for agricultural producers. Through EQIP, NRCS provides financial and technical assistance to install conservation practices that reduce soil erosion and sedimentation, improve soil health, improve water and air quality, and create wildlife habitat.

Many applicants are interested in using funds to address soil erosion and water quality issues on their land. However, funds are also available for pasture and grazing land, confined livestock operations, organic producers, drainage water management, invasive plant control and wildlife habitat improvement.

EQIP also has several state and national initiatives that address specific concerns within geographic regions of the state. While these initiatives use EQIP funding, landowners that apply for funding in one of the initiatives will not compete against the general EQIP funding pool.

"Indiana's farmers have already made great strides in helping to improve their resource concerns. With these targeted dollars, they will be able to do even more to impact the health of our streams and rivers," Raynor said.

The state and national initiatives include the following:

- Historically Underserved Farmers: This fund category is for applicants defined as socially disadvantaged, veteran, limited resource or beginning farmer. To see if you are eligible for one of these categories, please visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/in/about/outreach/slbfr/ or talk to your local district conservationist.

- National Organic Initiative: NRCS provides assistance to help producers implement conservation measures in keeping with organic production. Producers who are certified organic, transitioning to organic or exempt from organic certification are eligible for this initiative.

- National On-Farm Energy Initiative: NRCS provides assistance to quantify how energy can be used more efficiently to reduce input costs, increase productivity and reduce air pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions. This initiative offers assistance for Ag Energy Management Plans (AgEMPs) and certain energy conservation practices.

- Working Lands for Wildlife Initiative -- Monarch Butterfly: The Monarch Butterfly Habitat Development Project is a multi-state effort focused on increasing monarch habitat on private lands through plantings of milkweed and nectaring forbs as well as managing pesticide use in proximity to monarch habitat.

- Working Lands for Wildlife Initiative -- Bobwhite Quail: The goal of this initiative is to convert tall fescue and other non-native forages to native grasses and forbs and develop prescribed grazing plans to address the habitat needs of bobwhite quail and associated grassland/shrub land species. This category is available statewide on land which overlaps one of the Indiana DNR C.O.R.R.I.D.O.R.S. priority areas.

- Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI): NRCS and partners work with producers and landowners to implement voluntary conservation practices that improve water quality, restore wetlands, enhance wildlife habitat and sustain agricultural profitability in the Great Lakes.

- Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative (MRBI): NRCS and partners work with producers and landowners to implement voluntary conservation practices that improve water quality, restore wetlands, enhance wildlife habitat and sustain agricultural profitability in the Mississippi River basin.

o Big Walnut Creek in Hendricks and Boone Counties

o Middle Wabash -- Deer Creek in Carroll, Cass, Miami, Howard and Tippecanoe Counties

o Treaty Creek -- Wabash River in Miami and Wabash Counties

- National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI): This initiative will utilize a special EQIP funding allocation to accelerate efforts to improve water quality in three 12-digit watersheds with streams designated by the EPA for the Clean Water Act section 303(d) list of impaired waters.

o Upper Sinking Blue River watershed in Washington and Harrison Counties

- Resource Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) projects: RCPP promotes coordination between NRCS and its partners to deliver conservation assistance to producers and landowners. NRCS provides assistance to producers through partnership agreements and through the following program contracts or easement agreements.

o Southern Indiana Young Forest Initiative (43 counties in southern Indiana)

o Big Pine Watershed Partnership (Benton, White, Warren and Tippecanoe Counties)

o Soil Health on Reclaimed Mine Land (Vigo, Clay, Sullivan, Greene, Knox, Daviess, Gibson, Pike, Dubois, Warrick and Spencer)

o Grasslands and Gamebirds (five focal regions located strategically throughout Indiana)

- Western Lake Erie Basin Initiative (WLEB): NRCS and partners work with producers and landowners to implement voluntary conservation practices that improve water quality, restore wetlands, enhance wildlife habitat and sustain agricultural profitability in the Western Lake Erie basin.

Producers interested in EQIP are encouraged to contact their local NRCS field office to start the conservation planning and application process early. Participants in EQIP must meet eligibility requirements. NRCS staff will work with producers to determine eligibility and complete the necessary worksheets and rankings in order for the applicant to compete for funding.


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