CHAMPAIGN — Illinois State Conservationist for USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Ivan Dozier announced Illinois farmers can apply at NRCS offices to have their eligibility verified by Nov. 16 and be considered for the first round of funding selections for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and the Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP). While EQIP and WHIP are offered through a continuous signup, NRCS makes periodic funding selections and has scheduled all fiscal year 2013 batching periods.
Through EQIP, NRCS offers financial assistance to install conservation practices. Statewide EQIP practices include, but are not limited to, nutrient management, cover crops, terraces, grassed waterways, manure management facilities and pasture management. Through WHIP, NRCS offers financial assistance for landowners and operators who want to develop and improve wildlife habitat primarily on private lands and nonindustrial private forest land.
In addition to the Nov. 16 sign-up date, NRCS established three more sign-up dates to batch and review applications. The dates are Jan. 18, 2013, March 15, 2013, and May 17, 2013. Illinois producers interested in either the EQIP or WHIP programs should visit their local USDA office prior to the signup dates and submit an application and have their eligibility verified.
Through EQIP, eligible farmers address soil, water and related natural resource concerns on private agricultural lands. Five percent of EQIP financial assistance dollars are set aside for beginning farmers, and another 5 percent is reserved for socially disadvantaged farmers. For more information or to apply for an EQIP or WHIP contract, contact your local USDA Service Center or go online to www.il.nrcs.usda.gov.