Arkansas farmers and landowners have until Friday, Nov. 17, to sign up for financial assistance through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) for the 2018 year, said Henry English, director of the Small Farm Program at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.

EQIP provides financial and technical assistance to implement conservation practices. Payments are made after conservation practices and activities identified in an EQIP plan are implemented. Contracts can last up to 10 years, according to a news release.

Socially disadvantaged, beginning and limited resource farmers and Indian tribes are eligible for an increased payment rate and may receive an advance payment of up to 50 percent to purchase materials and services to implement conservation practices in their EQIP contracts.

According to English, many producers already follow many good conservation practices such as crop rotation, nutrient management and herbaceous week control, but they don’t sign up for these management practices or list them in their conservation plans.

“This is a mistake as acceptance into EQIP and funding are on a point basis. Producers are passing up points and money,” English said.

He advises producers that the next time they sign up for EQIP funding to sign up for those good management practices and their corresponding EQIP payment rates.

“The first step is to develop a conservation plan,” English said. “It helps you decide which U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) cost share assistance programs and practices are suitable for your farm operation to protect and improve your land.”

A conservation plan is a free service provided by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

“With your help, an NRCS representative will inventory the resources on your farm. You can discuss concerns and solutions field by field,” English said.

For more information, contact a local Extension associate or sign up at a local NRCS service center.

The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff offers all of its Extension and Research programs and services without discrimination.