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Program Offers Incentives for Farm Conservation

August 4, 2008

By Mike Surbrugg, The Joplin Globe, Mo.

Aug. 4–It’s not every day that a farm program puts smiles on the faces of farmers and conservationists.

But that could happen with the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, or EQIP, which provides money to farmers and ranchers to implement practices that reduce pollution. Money can be sought for restoring and managing timber damaged by ice storms or tornadoes, for example. Poultry producers can get money to build structures for storing waste and bedding until weather is favorable for spreading it as fertilizer on fields.

The most popular EQIP effort in Southwest Missouri is to improve animal grazing, such as getting water to pastures rather than having cattle stand in a stream to drink, said Lynn Jenkins, Natural Resources Conservation Service conservationist in Newton County

Dwain Gelnar, with the NRCS in Columbia, said agriculture and the environment go “hand-in-hand” in this program. People who are engaged in livestock or agricultural production on eligible land may participate. EQIP may share up to 75 percent of the cost of certain conservation practices.

Farmers have until Sept. 19 to file applications for fiscal 2009 EQIP funds at county offices of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Missouri in this fiscal year obtained $24 million to $25 million to put EQIP money on the land, and it stands to get at least that much in the coming fiscal year, Gelnar said.

Most counties get $100,000 to $150,000 in EQIP funds each year. The EQIP funds not used in a county can be moved to counties with more demand, Gelnar said.

Jenkins said EQIP gives emphasis to farmers with special needs, such as those who have been farming for no more than 10 years.

Mike Surbrugg is the farm editor for The Joplin Globe.

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Copyright (c) 2008, The Joplin Globe, Mo.

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