farmers find and share information.|
New Conservation Program Hotline
out your options for CRP, EQIP and CFO.
Center for Rural Affairs is re-activating its Conservation Options Hotline to
assist farmers and ranchers wanting to enroll in the Conservation Reserve
Program (CRP), the new Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), and the
Conservation Farm Option (CFO).
"The 1996 Farm Bill made major changes in the popular CRP and
completely reformed the conservation cost-share and incentive payments programs,"
says Duane Hovorka, Elmwood, Neb., who works on the hotline. (See
New Conservation Options, below.) "The new USDA
programs provide a variety of tools for achieving conservation on the farm.
Land retirement, incentive payments, and grants for testing and demonstrating
innovative conservation ideas are opportunities for farmers to achieve their
"Because the programs are new and rules are
very different than in the past, we expect some confusion over how the programs
are to work," Hovorka adds.
The Conservation Options Hotline is
a service of the Walthill, Neb.-based Center for Rural Affairs, in cooperation
with the Midwest Sustainable Agriculture Working Group, a network of grassroots
sustainable agriculture, environmental, church, rural and food organizations.
The Conservation Options Hotline telephone number is (402) 994-2021.
|New Conservation Options
Ground Rules -- The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP)
The CRP has
been a popular program with farmers but not as cost-effective as it could be.
The Farm Bill continued the program but Congress has clearly stated that future
enrollments must get the maximum environmental benefit for the money. The
program will maximize environmental benefit per dollar spent by encouraging
partial field enrollments with high environmental value and reforming rental
Partial field enrollments are encouraged through continuous enrollment
and bonus payments. In the past farmers could only sign up for the CRP a few
times a year. Bonus payments will encourage enrollments by compensating farmers
for taking what is likely to be highly productive land out of production, and
for the increased management required to maintain conservation practices. These
partial field practices include:
Rental payments will be reformed by
bringing them closer to average cash rents in a county.
- riparian buffers
- contour grass strips
- field windbreak
- living snow fences
- grassed waterways
- salt-tolerant vegetation
- shallow areas for wildlife
Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)
existing conservation programs into a single program. Five- to 10-year contracts
- technical assistance
- cost-share payments
- incentive payments
- Crop farms and moderate-size livestock farms are eligible.
- Contracts will include conservation plans approved by the Secretary of
EQIP funding is split between projects and individual requests.
States submit priority areas or projects within a specific geographic area, as
well as more general natural resource concerns for the state.
- $10,000 for any fiscal year
- $50,000 for a multi-year contract
example, last summer in Nebraska, Natural Resource Districts were asked to
identify priority area projects for EQIP funds, and to identify general natural
resources concerns for their district. Projects and natural resources concerns
were also identified by participants on the State Technical Committee. Funding
will be split between priority area projects (65 percent) and statewide natural
resource concerns (35 percent) for applications outside of a priority area.
Half of EQIP funds ($100 million) will to go to livestock producers.
The livestock portion of EQIP also addresses soil erosion concerns, forage
health, water quality, etc. Practices such as rotational grazing, composting,
aerobic digestion, dry bedding, and various methods of land application that
prevent erosion and incorporate nutrients at agronomic rates should be eligible
for cost sharing under EQIP.
Program: Conservation Farm Option (CFO)
This new program was
created to foster innovation in natural resource protection and enhancement
CFO contracts and payments
run for 10 years. The program is designed as a "one plan, one sign up, one
check" option that is not restricted by existing conservation program rules
and will be administered as a competitive grants program.
- soil and water conservation
- water quality improvement
- wetlands restoration, protection, and creation
- wildlife habitat development and protection
- other similar conservation purposes.
Contact Duane Hovorka at the Center for Rural Affairs Conservation Hotline:
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