Free Money And Advice

EQIP can be your partner in farming.

The NRCS Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) does just what it says—it can help equip you to make conservation improvements on your farm. Providing both cost-share funds, either at the 50% or 75% level, and technical advice, the list of eligible practices on cattle operations alone is a long one.

For instance, EQIP can partner with farmers on wells, pipelines, water troughs and surrounding heavy-use areas. It can provide cost-share money for fencing out creeks and ponds, and developing stream crossings, as well as help put in heavy-use areas where you normally feed hay. It can help with cross fencing for pastures and help replant pastures damaged by drought.

If you are interested in the cost-share funds and technical help provided by the NRCS, contact your local NRCS office. Before you go, though, Hugh Smith, district director for a five-county area in and around Saluda, South Carolina, offers his advice for boosting your chances of getting the funds. “Think small. Sign up for smaller contracts, one or two practices. Get those completed on time and it will increase your chances of getting another one.”

If, by chance, you think it will help if you have kinfolks at the NRCS office, think again. Hugh’s father, Boyd Smith, who lives in Hugh’s district, says, “Hugh told his staff not to show me any favoritism. He said, if it was between me and anybody else, [he’d] give the money to the other person.”

Still, Boyd says, “Check with your county person. See what’s available and what fits your farm. They have the money but you have to step up to the plate to get it. There are a lot of programs for different people for different farms. If it is out there and available, get it.”

Much more information is available on EQIP from NRCS, including a state-by-state guide for how to apply.

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