The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is offering financial and technical assistance to help agricultural producers apply conservation practices on their private land as well as their public land allotments. Agricultural producers are encouraged to apply for funds available through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Applications must be received before 4 p.m. on November 16, 2018 to be considered in the first application batching period.
EQIP is a voluntary, financial assistance program that provides funding for the implementation of conservation practices to protect and enhance sage-grouse habitat, manage livestock, improve irrigation efficiency and reduce soil loss.
Rick Lattin’s family has farmed in Nevada’s Lahontan Valley since 1909, and they have had an ongoing relationship with NRCS that goes back decades.
“They’ve been important to the success of our farm,” said Lattin. “Back in the 50s, they helped us put in concrete ditches—water is very important and very short here. We worked with NRCS over the years, and we now have all concrete lined ditches, and there’s no way we could’ve done that without NRCS. And they helped us put in an underground tile system that allows us to catch the excess water that goes into the ground when we irrigate.
The farm figured out how to pick that water up and re-use it to run the drip systems, which allows them to save water and use less water. NRCS has also assisted with Lattin’s high tunnels, also called hoop houses.
“We have a rotational program that includes cover cropping with rye in some of the winters and then doing double cropping when we can of early season greens and root crops. And then in the main season it’s tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and a little bit of squash and cucumbers for our roadside stand,” said Lattin. “The hoop houses have become very versatile for us with the kind of products we can grow, the number of products we can grow, and the season in which we can grow them.”
USDA Financial Assistance Programs such as EQIP give producers the opportunity to construct or improve water management or irrigation structures, plant trees for windbreaks or to improve water quality. They also can mitigate risk through production diversification, or by implementing innovative management strategies including soil erosion control, integrated pest management or transitioning to organic farming and practices that improve soil health on croplands, pastures and rangeland.
“Applications for EQIP are accepted year-round on a continuous basis for all state, local and Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) fund pools with batching periods announced so that applications can be ranked and funded. We encourage producers to utilize this early batching period to allow conservation plans to be completed in the fall for earliest obligation of the projects into contracts and implementation of the practices the following spring and summer,” said Gary Roeder, assistant state conservationist for programs.
Applicants must meet USDA program eligibility requirements for land eligibility and person eligibility. Eligibility requirements include Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) limitations for individuals and entities. Applicants must meet the eligibility criteria to be considered for ranking and funding decisions. Farm Bill programs have strict payment limits, and the amount of financial assistance producers may receive varies by program and will depend on future allocations received under the Farm Bill authority. Limited resource producers, beginning farmers and ranchers, or socially disadvantaged agricultural producers may be eligible for up to 15 percent higher payments, not to exceed 90 percent of the estimated cost to install the practice.
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