Putting The Farm Bill To Work
> Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)
Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)
has created significant opportunities for specialty crop producers
to adopt more environmentally sound practices on their farms. In
the past Farm Bill, the demand for EQIP outstripped the resources
available to support work in the field. With funding of almost $1
billion per year EQIP opens additional opportunities for addressing
the unique conservation needs of specialty crop growers
A growing number
of specialty crop producers across the country from a wide range
of cropping systems are making use of EQIP in their operations.
Their experiences in Oregon,
and North Carolina
offer insights into how the program works and the benefits that
can accrue to growers and the environment.
Farm Bill to Work is increasing the ability of growers to participate
in EQIP For growers who have not previously used the conservation
programs or worked with the Natural Resources Conservation Service
(NRCS) participating in the program can prove challenging. Putting
the Farm Bill to Work projects in North Carolina, Michigan, California,
Georgia and South Carolina are providing information on how to use
EQIP through Succeed with EQIP, a guide for growers to applying
for EQIP that is customized for each state and cropping system.
(Click here to see an
example from North Carolina)
Facts About EQIP
the Farm Bill was passed in May of 2002, NRCS began writing program
policy and guidelines to implement the changes in the law. Those
policies and guidelines were completed in May 2003 and EQIP contracts
were signed with growers under the new rule's
early as June 2003 in some states.
amount of money that each state has available for EQIP contracts
is allocated by the NRCS national office. States then allocate
EQIP funds to individual counties, or manage the funds on a statewide
or other basis.
apply for EQIP at their local NRCS offices. EQIP applications
are ranked according to priorities set at the state level, and
may address issues of national, state, and local importance. Pest
management, which includes IPM, and nutrient management are practices
for which NRCS has established standards.
an application is approved the grower signs a contract with NRCS
to implement the practices in the application. Payments are made
to the grower for the approved practices at rates set by each