By Kelsey Keener
CEDAR CITY–The deadline for farmers and ranchers to apply for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program has changed to Aug. 17 this year.
EQIP is a voluntary conservation program under the 2014 Farm Bill designed to help agricultural producers participate in natural resource conservation practices. These practices can address soil, water or air quality issues and plant or animal concerns. Through EQIP, farmers and ranchers may receive funding to help establish conservation practices, such as improving irrigation efficiency, controlling invasive species or installing high tunnels.
In order to be eligible, the applicant must have an adjusted gross income of less than $900,000 and have land that has been irrigated two out of the last five years. Privately owned or leased land is eligible, as well some public land with the permission of the managing agency. Approved applications will have a contract from one to five years, and have one year to complete at least one conservation practice. Cost-share assistance through EQIP generally varies between 50 and 80 percent.
This program is one of the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s primary tools for providing conservation assistance to producers throughout Utah and there are several funding opportunities applications may be considered for, according to the USDA.
NRCS Soil Conservationist Jason Bradshaw said the program is aimed toward conserving natural resources as well as helping agricultural producers enhance their land.
“We try to help incentive producers to do the right thing for their property and therefore we help pay for the practice to be done,” he said. “I think sometimes we get stuck on our mindset, and a perspective from our agency can help point you in a direction to improve your ground.”
Anyone interested in applying is encouraged to reach out to the local USDA-NRCS center located at 2390 W. Highway 56, Suite 14 in Cedar City. The center can also be reached by telephone at 435-586-2429.