USDA releases final EQIP rule

The US Department of Agriculture has released the final rule for its Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).

Through the program, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service provides financial resources and helps producers implement conservation practices.

NRCS received about 600 comments on the interim final rule published in December and used the feedback to update EQIP. The changes include modifying language in national priorities to include soil health and weather and drought resilience, adjusting the definition of a comprehensive nutrient management plan, and more.

NRCS Acting Chief Kevin Norton says EQIP offers producers more than 150 conservation practices and helps bridge the gap between their concerns and implementing solutions.

EQIP applications are accepted on a continuous basis. If an application is funded, NRCS will offer an EQIP contract for financial assistance to help address the cost of implementing the practices. Payment rates are reviewed and set each fiscal year.

The 2018 Farm Bill created incentive contracts, which address up to three priority resource concerns within targeted watersheds and other high priority landscapes. Typical EQIP contracts last five years, but incentive contracts last 5-10 years.

EQIP helps producers make conservation improvements on working lands and contributes to USDA’s Agriculture Innovation Agenda of reducing the environmental footprint of US agriculture in half by 2050.

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