Glickman Announces Final Rules for New Conservation Program, Release No. 0163.97
Farm Management Update, June 1997
By Jim Petterson and David White, USDA
Washington, May 20, 1997--Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman today announced the publication of the final rules for USDA's new Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), making long-term conservation contracts and funding available to farmers and ranchers to improve the environmental health of the nation's farm and ranch land.
"EQIP will help farmers and ranchers throughout the country address some of their most pressing natural resource concerns--including soil erosion, water quality and quantity, wildlife habitat, wetlands, and grazing lands. Healthier lands, cleaner water and better wildlife habitat on private lands will benefit all Americans for generations to come," Glickman said.
With an annual budget of $200 million authorized through 2002, EQIP is USDA's largest conservation program designed to conserve and improve land while it remains in agricultural productions.
EQIP provides cost-share assistance for up to 75 percent of the cost of certain conservation practices, such as grassed waterways, filter strips, manure management facilities, capping abandoned wells, and wildlife habitat enhancement. Incentive payments can be made for up to three years to encourage producers to perform land management practices such as nutrient, manure, irrigation water, wildlife, and integrated pest management. Total cost-share and incentive payments are limited to $10,000 per person per year and $50,000 for the length of the contract, which can run from 5 to 10 years.
For fiscal year 1997, at least 65 percent of the funds will be used in locally-identified priority areas and up to 35 percent can be used for other significant statewide natural resource concerns.
Farmers and ranchers who agree to address the primary conservation concerns in the priority areas will be given preference for an EQIP contract. The program is limited to persons who are engaged in livestock or agricultural production. Nationally, one-half of the funds are targeted to livestock-related natural resource needs and the remainder to other significant conservation priorities associated with crop production.
The 1996 Farm Bill prohibits providing EQIP cost-share assistance to large confined livestock operations for the construction of animal waste storage or treatment facilities. The final rule defines a large confined livestock operation as one with more than 1,000 animal units. Because of the significant differences in operations, circumstances and environmental needs across the nation, each state Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) State Conservationist, after consultation with the State Technical Committee, has the flexibility to modify this national standard to meet each states' conservation needs. However, any proposed modification of the definition of large confined livestock operation must by approved by the chief of the NRCS.
EQIP was created in the 1996 Farm Bill and combines into a single program the functions of several previous conservation programs--the Agricultural Conservation Program, Agricultural Water Quality Incentives Program, the Colorado River Salinity Control Program, and the Great Plains Conservation Program.
For more information, producers may contact USDA Service Centers and the Natural Resources Conservation Service, which administers the program.
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