Opportunity to weigh in on changes to Environmental Quality Incentives Program

By Anna Johnson

Anna Johnson

As it works to implement changes to the 2018 farm bill, the U.S. Department of Agricul­ture continues to accept public comments on its rule addressing the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).

EQIP is one of the nation’s largest conservation programs. As of 2018, 13.7 million acres were covered under active and completed EQIP contracts. EQIP helps producers implement con­servation practices on their oper­ations that preserve soil, water, and other natural resources.

The new EQIP rule includes several changes required by the farm bill. One is creating a new enrollment option of in­centive contracts and incentive payments. The new rule also provides for an advance pay­ment option for historically un­der-served producers, and offers increased payments for produc­ers participating in the EQIP-Organic Initiative. Finally, it expands opportunities for farm­ers and ranchers to participate in the Conservation Innovation Grant program, through inno­vative on-farm conservation and building soil health trials.

Public comments on the chang­es to EQIP will be taken until Feb. 18. The Center for Rural Affairs encourages farmers and ranchers who care about conser­vation, are interested in EQIP, or have used EQIP to weigh in.

Need help submitting a com­ment? Check out our guide at cfra.org. You can also reach out via email to annaj@cfra.org or kateh@cfra.org, or by calling us at 515.215.1294.

If you are interested in enroll­ing in EQIP, contact your local Natural Resources Conservation Service office to learn about the application process and dead­lines.

Johnson is policy manager, Center for Rural Affairs