COLUMBIA, Mo. -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has set January 18, 2013, as the next cut-off date for ranking applications for about $25.6 million available through its Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).
EQIP is the agency's largest Farm Bill conservation program. It helps producers of agricultural products improve water quality, build healthier soil, improve grazing and forest lands, conserve energy, enhance organic operations, and achieve other environmental benefits.
State Conservationist J.R. Flores says that while NRCS accepts applications for EQIP on a continuous basis, producers must file applications by the January 18 deadline to be considered for the next round of application funding. Applications filed after January 18 will be considered in the next ranking period if funds remain available.
Flores says EQIP offers farmers, ranchers and forestland managers a variety of options to conserve natural resources while boosting production on their lands.
"The nearly $26 million that we have available for use in Missouri this fiscal year will go a long way toward improving the environment and the economy of Missouri's rural communities," he says.
EQIP provides financial assistance for a variety of conservation activities, such as irrigation water management, reduced tillage, field buffers, rotational grazing systems, animal waste management systems and much more.
Additionally, NRCS offers special initiatives through EQIP, including:
* On-Farm Energy Initiative: helps producers conserve energy on their operations.
* Seasonal High Tunnel Initiative: helps producers install high tunnels designed to extend the growing season into the cold months, increase productivity, keep plants at a steady temperature and conserve water and energy.
* Organic Initiative: helps producers to install conservation practices on certified organic operations or those working toward organic certification.
Applicants can sign up at their local NRCS service center. To find the service center nearest you, look in the telephone directory under, "U.S. Government, Department of Agriculture" or go to this website: http://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov/locator/....
NRCS employees in county offices can provide more information about EQIP and how to apply for benefits offered by NRCS through the program.