The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has announced that applications for farmland conservation practices must be in by Feb. 3 to be considered for 2012 funding. The deadline to apply for both the general Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP) is Feb. 3 at all USDA Service Centers in Wisconsin.
Pat Leavenworth, state conservationist for NRCS in Wisconsin, said that EQIP is the primary program available to farmers for farmland conservation work, offering flat-rate payments for over 80 conservation practices. WHIP offers cost sharing to restore wildlife habitat for targeted species.
"EQIP was established to help all types of farmers - livestock and dairy, grazing, or cash crop, including specialty crops, organic, and agro-forestry," said Leavenworth. "EQIP also offers additional assistance for beginning, socially disadvantaged and limited resource farmers."
Several new practices are available in EQIP this year, including Drainage Water Management. This practice allows farmers to significantly reduce nitrogen loss from drained cropland, and thereby reduce nitrogen flowing into and adding to the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico.
All eligible applications received by Feb. 3 will be evaluated and ranked for funding. Farmers can sign up at the NRCS office in USDA Service Centers statewide. Last year, Wisconsin received about $16 million in funds for EQIP.
Sign-up for WHIP
The Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP) provides technical assistance and cost-sharing to restore wildlife habitat. Depending on the site, streams, prairies and oak savannahs and other types of habitat, including habitat for pollinators, may qualify to be restored. Land restored through WHIP has resulted in excellent new habitat, for trout, grassland and migratory birds, and species in decline.
For more information, visit www.wi.nrcs.usda.gov , or contact the NRCS office at the USDA Service Center serving your county.