Arkansas farmers and landowners have until Nov. 21 to sign up for financial assistance through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) for the 2015 year, said Henry English, head of the Small Farm Program at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.

Arkansas farmers and landowners have until Nov. 21 to sign up for financial assistance through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) for the 2015 year, said Henry English, head of the Small Farm Program at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.


And, because sign up is continuous, if producers miss this deadline, their application will be accepted in future funding.


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.


Socially disadvantaged, beginning and limited resource farmers, Indian tribes and veterans 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.


Many producers already follow many good conservation practices such as crop rotation, nutrient management and herbaceous weed control, but they do not sign up for these management practices or list them in their conservation plans, said English.


"This is a mistake as acceptance into EQIP and funding are on a point basis. Producers are passing up points and money," said English. He advises producers that the next time they sign up for EQIP funding to sign up for those good management practices they already use.


The EQIP website lists more than 450 management practices and their corresponding EQIP payment rates.


"Of course, the first step is to develop a conservation plan," said English. "It can help you decide which 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 and help you interpret the information about the land, its soil and production capability. You can discuss concerns and solutions field by field.


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


The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Program offers its programs to all eligible persons without discrimination.