The deadline for Iowa farmers interested in submitting new applications for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) is May 7. This is the second deadline for 2021 funding, following a first batch cutoff in December 2020.
Administered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), EQIP one of the nation’s most popular working lands programs, with thousands of farmers and ranchers enrolling each year. The program offers producers financial and technical assistance for a variety of conservation practices
In 2020, there were nearly 1,000 active EQIP contracts in the state.
“EQIP is a good option for farmers looking to address a specific resource concern or practice on their operation,” said Kate Hansen, policy assistant for the Center for Rural Affairs. “The program can be helpful for trying out cover crops, developing a rotational grazing system, or planting a more complex crop rotation.”
In applying for EQIP, farmers work with local NRCS office staff to develop a plan for their contract.
“EQIP can help prepare for greater conservation down the line, by implementing practices in manageable increments,” Hansen said.
The 2018 farm bill made several changes to EQIP, which NRCS is in the final stages of rolling out. One notable change makes beginning farmers eligible to receive a portion of their cost-share payments at the start of their contract, rather than after the work is completed. Beginners interested in this option should inquire during the application process.
Those interested in applying for EQIP should contact their local NRCS office as soon as possible. To find your local office, visit nrcs.usda.gov.