Producers interested in applying for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, a competitive USDA cost-share conservation program, should sign up soon to qualify for the first round in 2021. EQIP applications are accepted by NRCS year-round. The second batching period for Fiscal Year 2021 EQIP applications in California closes on March 3, 2021 with funding decisions to be made on March 17, 2021. The third batching period closes on June 9, 2021 with funding decisions to be made on June 23, 2021. EQIP is administered by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. The program provides financial and technical assistance to producers in order to address natural resource concerns and deliver environmental benefits. California NRCS State Conservationist Carlos Suarez says the department invested over $94 million in fiscal year 2020 in the state’s farm, ranch and non-industrial forestland using EQIP. “Investments were made primarily in forest restoration, water conservation, water quality, soil and rangeland health, air quality, and wildlife habitat,” he said. Applications must include a conservation plan that is created by the landowner and NRCS, detailing what will be done to improve the specific natural resource condition the producer is addressing along with a timeline. Applications are screened and ranked on an ongoing basis and the best projects will receive top consideration.

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