The deadline for Iowa farmers to submit initial paperwork for the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) and Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) is Oct.7.
Administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), CSP and EQIP provide financial and technical assistance for producers interested in addressing natural resource priorities in their operations. Both programs allow farmers to implement conservation practices while maintaining agricultural production.
“These programs give farmers the unique opportunity to improve the quality of Iowa’s natural resources by selecting conservation practices that work for their specific needs,” said Kalee Olson, policy associate for the Center for Rural Affairs.
EQIP is designed to help producers address a particular resource concern with a single practice or project, such as mitigating erosion through no-till farming. In addition, EQIP offers assistance for structural practices, such as building terraces.
In contrast, CSP is a whole-farm program designed to help farmers take their existing conservation efforts to the next level. Eligible producers must demonstrate they are currently addressing regional resource concerns and be willing to implement additional practices, such as a multispecies cover crop.
“Implementing no-till or cover crops with support from CSP or EQIP helps alleviate a portion of the risk associated with trying a new farming practice,” Olson said.
In 2021, a combined 1,346 CSP and EQIP contracts advanced conservation across more than 300,000 acres of Iowa farmland.
Farmers interested in applying for either program are encouraged to contact their local NRCS office as soon as possible to set up an appointment. A list of local offices can be found at offices.sc.egov.usda.gov.