2004 EQIP Ranking Period March 15 Š April 16

Friday, March 12, 2004                        By Shawn Wade

      Farmersand ranchers interested in applying for cost-share assistance through the 2004Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) need to have their 2004 applicationforms turned in to county Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) officesno later than April 16 in order to be considered for 2004 funding.

      Sincethe EQIP program utilizes a continuous sign-up process, a ranking period isused to set appropriate cut-off dates for each yearÕs EQIP sign-up.

      Thisyear Texas will receive a significant increase in base EQIP funding levels.Preliminary 2004 funding levels indicate the state will receive approximately$56.8 million in base EQIP program funds. The 2004 EQIP funding level is an$18.4 million increase over the 2003 EQIP base funding level of $38.4 million.

      The2004 program will provide approximately $106,000 in base EQIP funds per county.This marks a 47 percent increase in base EQIP funding per county over the 2003programÕs $72,000 allocation.

      Inaddition to the base EQIP program funds, additional EQIP funding is availablein some counties that are in special emphasis or statewide resource concernareas.

      Oneexample of an additional EQIP funding source is the Ground and Surface Water(G&SW) program. In 2004 $5.5 million in G&SW funds have been allocatedto Texas to provide additional EQIP funding in counties that utilize theOgallala Aquifer.

      Other examples of special emphasis areas and resource concerns that can provideadditional EQIP funding in a county are wildlife habitat improvement andinvasive species control.

      Alisting of base and special emphasis area funding, cost-share amounts and otherpertinent information about the EQIP program in a particular county will soonbe available from the NRCS website ( www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/EQIP ). The website also includesdownloadable application forms for 2004 and other information about the EQIPprogram.

      Thegoal of the EQIP program is to assist producers in complying with local, state,and national regulatory requirements involving soil, water, and air quality. Itis also used to encourage producers to establish wildlife habitat and newground and surface water conservation measures.


NCC Seeks 2004-5 Leadership Class Applicants

Friday, March 12, 2004                       

      TheNational Cotton Council announced today that the application period for the2004-05 Cotton Leadership Class has opened. NCC will accept applications fromqualified U.S. industry members through July 1.

      Thoseinterested in applying can visit the Cotton Leadership Program's web site at http://leadership.cotton.org to review the program curriculum,eligibility requirements and download the application. The site also includes acontact form that allows users to submit questions, request information andschedule a personal visit with local program alumni. The NCC's CottonLeadership Program seeks to identify potential industry leaders and providethem developmental training through this class.

      Duringfive sessions of activity across the Cotton Belt, participants visit withindustry leaders and observe production, processing and research. They meetwith lawmakers and government agency representatives during a visit toWashington, DC, and attend the NCC's annual meeting and its mid-year board ofdirectors meeting.

      Theprogram, now in its 21st year, is supported by a grant to The Cotton Foundationfrom DuPont Crop Protection and is managed by NCC's Member Services department.The 10-member leadership class is comprised of four producers and oneparticipant from each of the other six industry segments.

      The2004-05 class is to be announced in August by the NCC's Cotton LeadershipDevelopment Committee. Committee Chairman Jimmy Sanford, an Alabama producer,says the U.S. cotton industry has benefited from dedicated leaders for decades,but the need to groom future leaders is imperative.

      "Soundleadership will be crucial for helping move U.S. cotton forward in a rapidlyevolving global marketplace," Sanford said. "The leadership programis an ideal training ground for those men and women who would like to embracethe challenge of guiding this outstanding industry."

      Manyof the 200-plus leadership program alumni have utilized the skills and knowledgegained from their participation to represent the industry on state, regional,national and international levels. That includes 1984-85 leadership classgraduate Bobby Greene, an Alabama ginner who served as the NCC's chairman in2003 - the first leadership class graduate elected to that position. Inaddition, Bobby Carson, a Mississippi producer and 1983-84 class programgraduate, served as president of the NCC's export promotions arm, CottonCouncil International, last year. He also has served as president of The CottonFoundation.



Mark your calendar:

PlainsCotton Growers, Inc.

47thAnnual Meeting

Thursday,April 1, 2004

Lubbock Memorial CivicCenter Š Banquet Hall