The Texas Corn Producers Board (TCPB) is encouraging producers to take the opportunity to apply for additional funding through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).

The 2002 farm bill made new provisions and added funding to EQIP. Farmers and ranchers have the opportunity to apply for additional 2002 funds totaling approximately $24 million for needed conservation practices.

EQIP is designed to promote agricultural production and environmental quality through technical assistance, cost-share payments and incentive payments to assist crop and livestock producers with environmental and conservation improvements on private lands.

New program provisions and changes were made to improve program delivery and streamline administrative concurrence. Producers no longer have the bidding down option; all cost-share practices are set at a 75% cost-share rate. Producers also will be able to utilize program funds within the first year of their contract, and the payment limitation increased to $450,000 per producer for the life of the farm bill. "These current provisions will be incorporated into all new contracts approved this year in Texas," said TCPB Chairman Joe Reed.

Interested producers can contact their local Natural Resources Conservation Service office, in their county U.S. Department of Agriculture Service Center. Applications can be made through June 28. Those producers having made prior applications in 2001 to 2002 should contact their local NRCS office to review their applications. More information is available on the USDA Website, at www.usda.gov/farmbill.

An additional farm bill provision was made with the creation of the Ground and Surface Water Conservation Area under EQIP. Funding for this special emphasis area is specified for the purpose of water conservation on land above the Ogallala Aquifer.

The projected ground and surface water funding for this special area in Texas is approximately $6 million. The focus will be on water conservation showing primary concerns for water quantity.

"This will present farmers and ranchers the opportunity to install more efficient irrigation systems through cost-share contracting," Reed said.

Producers interested in making an EQIP application for the Ground and Surface Water Conservation Area should contact their local NRCS field office for the application period beginning June 17 to July 12, 2002.

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