As many agricultural support programs are left in limbo, EQIP funding will continue despite the lack of a farm bill in place. Through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program known as EQIP, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) assists with the implementation of different types of conservation practices.
“Right now, we’re waiting for a new farm bill, but we do have EQIP funds for the continuing resolution,” said NRCS Assistant State Conservationist for Programs Alan Forkey. “In the 2014 Farm Bill, EQIP was one of the programs that they actually went beyond the end of the five-year farm bill period, so it is authorized through the end of fiscal year 2019.”
The program helps to conserve natural resources by providing financial assistance for projects that improve soil, water, air, and other resources. Farmers, ranchers, forestland managers, and landowners still have time to apply for EQIP funding for the fiscal year 2019. “We are continuing to accept applications…we will be processing applications and making funding decisions on November 16,” Forkey noted.
The application process can take some time to complete, which is why Forkey suggests that those interested in applying start soon. “Landowners have to be eligible in the Farm Service Agency’s farm record system, so the earlier they get into the local NRCS office to sign up the better,” said Forkey.
EQIP is one of the central points of discussion for the Farm Bill Conference Committee, with significant differences between the Senate and House farm bill drafts. Forkey explained that the House version of the farm bill looks to dissolve the Conservation Stewardship Program but would add a stewardship component to EQIP. The Senate version of the farm bill calls for incremental funding increases for EQIP. “It starts off at about $1.47 billion dollars, then it goes up to a little less than $1.6 billion by 2023,” said Forkey.
Listen to Forkey’s interview below.