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NRCS' EQIP HELPS FARMERS AND RANCHERS CONSERVE THE LAND

Voluntary conservation program promotes environmental quality

For those involved in agriculture, fall is a busy time of the year. But Harold L. Klaege, state conservationist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) says that even though producers may be busy, this may be the best time to sign up for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).

EQIP is a voluntary conservation program that promotes environmental quality and helps producers to meet local, state, and federal regulations. It is NRCS' principal conservation program in Kansas, offering ideas, solutions, and guidance for successful and sustainable conservation practices on the farm.

"Most producers have concerns on their farms that need solving today, not tomorrow, not next year," says Klaege. "They may have soil condition, irrigation efficiency, or livestock waste issues. Maybe they have grazing land that isn't as productive as it used to be. Producers can get assistance for prescribed burning, cross fencing, watering facilities, shelterbelts, and upland wildlife habitat management. EQIP is available to help limited-resource and beginning farmers and ranchers who have unique circumstances and natural resource concerns that need to be addressed on their land. EQIP may offer such farmers and ranchers a higher payment rate for structural and vegetative practices."

Landowners located in the eastern part of the state may be eligible for EQIP financial assistance when addressing forest land health issues, such as thinning or tree and nut planting.

The first step is to visit the nearest NRCS office. The Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks has a biologist in each NRCS area office at least one day a week to answer wildlife questions or help producers manage wildlife resources. The local USDA Service Center is listed in the telephone book under United States Government. The deadline to apply for Fiscal Year 2008 funding is Nov. 2.

For more information, go online, phone 785-823-4571, or email mary.shaffer@ks.usda.gov.

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