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Agricultural News


EQIP Deadline Nears- Oklahoma NRCS Ready to Help With Applying

Mon, 13 Apr 2020 10:45:43 CDT

EQIP Deadline Nears- Oklahoma NRCS Ready to Help With Applying The sky was not blue, and life was not normal.

This wasn’t the perfect day.

However, Scott Pace, a USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) District Conservationist in Oklahoma, knows that the ideal days seldom arrive, but a producer’s needs are often immediate.

So many of the NRCS employees are teleworking during the COVID-19 crisis, Pace, who is based out of the Choctaw County USDA Service Center in southeastern Oklahoma, grabbed his NRCS baseball cap and a rain slicker on a cold, rainy day and headed to a producer’s place near Hugo.

This producer has an NRCS Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) contract with several practices in it, one of which is a livestock watering facility.

“We are just continuing to offer the quality of service that we always provide; even through the COVID-19 crisis,” Pace said. “When that customer called and said he was ready for a checkout, we wanted to get out there immediately and get it checked out so that we could get him paid. We wanted to get that financial burden removed from him.”

So, on this day in early April, Pace was checking out and certifying the completion of the livestock watering facility, including a well, solar pumping plant and water testing.

This family has had an EQIP contract with USDA/NRCS for about two years. EQIP practices have included brush management, cross fencing, fire break, prescribed burn, livestock water and prescribed grazing. The producer describes this as a new cattle operation, which is cow-calf.

“The EQIP program has helped us out by Scott providing us with some expert advice and consultation on the land management side of it, helping us to get fencing completed and also with the water resources that are needed for the cattle,” the producer said.

The producer added that he appreciates that the NRCS staff are still available and responsive to their calls during these tough times in our country.

“We were able to go out and take a look at our water well and he was able to get what he needed with the review of the completed project so that we could go ahead and get the funding side of that finished,” the producer said. “So, I was very happy he was able to meet with me on short notice.”

While one USDA employee works in the office, others are going to the field, “and we all rotate,” Pace said.

Taking the safety of producers and themselves into consideration with social distancing and other recommended practices, NRCS employees are able to continue the quality service mentioned by Pace.

“We’re getting contracts signed, modifications made, and EQIP applications serviced,” Pace said. “We’re doing business. We’re just doing it a little bit differently than we’ve done in the past, but we’re still very much doing business.”

Individuals in Oklahoma who are engaged in livestock, crop or forest production whose land use includes cropland, rangeland, pasture and private non-industrial forestland are eligible to apply for NRCS EQIP.

Application Deadline is April 17, 2020.

Oklahoma’s state priorities are developed annually from input from local workgroups based on county resource assessments and individual plans to address those local needs. National priorities, consistent with statutory resources concerns that include soil, water, wildlife, air quality, and related natural resource concerns, may be used in determining EQIP priority implementation. These are Water Quality Improvement; Soil Quality Improvement and Source Water Depletion.

To determine if you are eligible to apply, to learn more about opportunities for Historically Underserved participants under the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (2018 Farm Bill) or to learn more about EQIP, visit the NRCS Farm Bill Programs website.

To apply for EQIP, producers should contact their local NRCS field office to be considered in the current application period ending April 17, 2020.

USDA is open for business. USDA’s Service Centers are open in Oklahoma by phone appointment only. This includes NRCS, FSA and Rural Development. Our team is continuing to provide the best customer service we can while also prioritizing the health of our employees, the health of our customers, and the health of our partners. While our program delivery staff will continue to come into to the office, they will be working with our customers by phone, by email, and using other online tools whenever possible.

To learn more about USDA programs and the Department’s response to the Coronavirus visit farmers.gov/coronavirus.

To locate your local Service Center, visit farmers.gov/service-locator.


   

 

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