USDA Announces State EQIP Funding

Friday,May 9, 2003                       By Shawn Wade

      USDA has announced State allocationlevels for the 2003 Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). The EQIPapplication process is currently underway. NRCS will accept EQIP applicationsfrom producers through June 13, 2003.

      Some $1.9 Billion in EQIP funds areavailable nationwide for 2003. the funds will provide cost-share and technicalassistance to farmers and ranchers to initiate conservation practices that willprovide environmental benefits.

      Texas is slated to receive slightlymore than $130 Million in EQIP funds. According to USDA fact sheets, the Texasallocation will provide approximately $69 million in technical assistance and$61 million in financial assistance.

      EQIP funds are being made availableto provide both cost-share assistance and to provide technical assistance tofarmers and ranchers wanting to initiate conservation practices on theiroperations.

      In addition to the regular EQIPfinding, additional funds will be available to Texas counties under specialallocations targeted at the Ogalalla Aquifer and through the EQIP programÕsanimal feeding operations/confined animal feeding operation (AFO/CAFO)provisions.

      Abreakdown of EQIP funding allocations for various Cotton Belt states appears onthe table below.


Cotton Belt EQIPFunding Allocations

Source USDA

State                            TechnicalAssistance         Financial Assistance

Alabama      $18,354,076             $10,701,700

Arizona              $13,239,397             $11,887,400

Arkansas            $21,381,976             $31,138,800

California           $37,308,389             $60,965,800

Georgia              $25,140,444             $16,793,000

Louisiana           $19,043,763             $33,240,600

Mississippi        $31,285,078             $28,169,000

Missouri                  $33,905,156             $27,558,400

New Mexico       $16,249,584             $17,013,700

North Carolina    $19,232,458             $18,787,400

Oklahoma          $28,651,827             $21,519,900

South Carolina    $13,658,925             $14,537,700

Texas                $69,201,376             $61,774,700

Virginia             $16,210,595             $9,333,100


      In Texas NRCS works with 216 localSoil and Water Conservation Districts to address local natural resource issuesand to identify conservation practices that are most beneficial to the producerand the community. For more information about the 2003 EQIP program, contactthe local SWCD district office or NRCS field office. Additional information is availableon the agency website at:


26th CRP Sign-up Underway

Friday,May 9, 2003                       By Shawn Wade

      TheConservation Reserve ProgramÕs 26th sign-up began May 5 and runsthrough May 30, 2003. This is the first general CRP sign-up to be held sincethe 2002 Farm Bill was signed into law May 13, 2002.

      Tobe eligible a producer or landowner must have owned or operated the land for atleast 12 months prior to the close of the CRP sign-up period.

      Exceptionsto this criteria include a new owner acquiring the land due to the previousownerÕs death, the ownership change occurred due to foreclosure where the ownerexercised a timely right or redemption in accordance with State law, or thecircumstance of the acquisition resent adequate assurance to FSA that the newowner did not acquire the land solely for the purpose of placing it in CRP.

      Also,current CRP participants with contracts that expire on September 30, 2003 orSeptember 30, 2004 may submit offers during this sign-up period. Producers mustvisit their local Farm Service Agency office to submit CRP offers.

      Offers submitted during the 26thCRP sign-up will be ranked according to the Environmental Benefits Index (EBI).The EBI score cut-off will be determined after the sign-up ends. Offers thathave previously met the EBI threshold are not guaranteed a contract under thissign-up.

      Producers can consult with localUSDA experts on steps that can be taken to maximize the EBI points of theiroffer and increase their chances of having that offer accepted.

      A USDA Fact Sheet is available thatexplains the Environmental Benefits Index and how points are awarded for eachfactor.

      The Fact Sheet can be found at: