USDA released the final rule for its Environmental Quality Incentives Program. The Natural Resources Conservation Service provides producers with financial resources and one-on-one help to plan and implement conservation practices through EQIP.
Popular EQIP practices include cover crops, nutrient management, forest stand improvement, prescribed grazing, irrigation efficiency improvement, and water-quality improvement practices. Implementing conservation practices can lead to cleaner water and air, healthier soil, and better wildlife habitat while improving agricultural operations.
Based on feedback from 600 comments on the interim rule, NRCS made the following changes in the final rule:
- revising its purpose statement to address resource concerns for organic producers, avoiding the need for more regulatory programs, and helping producers transition from the Conservation Reserve Program
- authorizing reduced matching requirements for Conservation Innovation Grant projects aimed at helping historically underserved producers
- creating incentive contracts and payments for incentive practices to better support locally led conservation needs
- requiring NRCS to offer an advance payment option for historically underserved producers
- raising the payment cap for producers participating in the Organic Initiative to $140,000 for contracts entered into for fiscal 2019 through 2023 — previously, it was $20,000 per year and $80,000 for any six-year period
- expanding the Conservation Innovation Grant program, which is funded through EQIP, to include opportunities for on-farm conservation innovation trials and soil health demonstration trials
Crop insurance changes
USDA’s Risk Management Agency announced producers with crop insurance can now hay, graze or chop cover crops for silage, haylage or baleage at any time and still receive 100% of the prevented-planting payment.
Previously, cover crops could only be hayed, grazed or chopped after Nov. 1; otherwise, the prevented-planting payment was reduced by 65%. USDA announced this flexibility for the 2021 crop year will be made permanent in the future. Contact your crop insurance agent for information.
Pipeline Foods loses license
The Missouri Department of Agriculture’s Grain Regulatory Services Program suspended the Missouri grain dealer license for Pipeline Foods LLC. Effective immediately, Pipeline Foods LLC is not licensed to operate as a grain dealer in the state of Missouri.
Farmers can contact the Missouri Department of Agriculture if they have any unsettled obligations with Pipeline Foods LLC. You may call Grain Regulatory Services Program manager Eric Berwanger at 573-751-4112.
The department’s Grain Regulatory Services Program licenses and regulates grain warehouses and grain dealers in Missouri, offering a means of protection to Missouri’s grain producers in case of warehouse or grain dealer insolvency. Any person or business purchasing grain from producers must have a valid grain dealer license.