USDA funding is available for irrigation water conservation measures
“Farmers and ranchers have the opportunity to apply for 2005 Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) funds of approximately $1.1 million for needed water conservation practices that conserve groundwater in the High Plains Region and across the state of Oklahoma,” said Cherrie Brown USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) District Conservationist in Boise City .
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. An additional farm bill provision for ground and surface water conservation was created under EQIP. Funding for this provision of EQIP is specified for the purpose of water conservation measures that result in a net water savings for the operating unit. Over $750,000 of this funding is designated for conservation measures in the Oklahoma Panhandle (Cimarron, Texas, and Beaver Counties). The focus will be on irrigation water conservation practices that reduce the amount of water used to produce a crop or convert the irrigated land to dryland crop or pasture.
Additional irrigation water conservation funding is being offered again statewide for 2005 to provide other irrigators an opportunity for USDA cost-share assistance to increase system efficiency, providing for water savings. A limited statewide application and funding process similar to FY 2004, exclusive of the Oklahoma Panhandle Area, is being offered again this year to address water conservation needs across the remainder of the state. An allocation of $350,000 has been set-aside to fund irrigation water conservation measures on approved applications. These funds will be available only for existing irrigation systems and cannot be used to bring new land under irrigation. To be eligible, the land must have been irrigated two (2) of the five (5) years previous to application for EQIP, and the conservation measures applied through the EQIP must result in a net water savings to the operating unit. Farmers and ranchers will have the opportunity to install more efficient irrigation systems through cost-share contracting and incentive payments for management.
We are accepting applications for water conservation measures in the EQIP on a continuous basis. However, only applications received by January 15, 2005, will be ranked and considered during this initial selection period. Evaluated applications will be grouped and selected for funding from a statewide pool of applicants soon after April 1, 2005, until the funding allocation is obligated. Unsuccessful applications and applications received after cut-off date will be maintained for future funding consideration if the applicant chooses to remain on the waiting list. Successful applicants with high priority resource concerns will be contacted to develop contracts to obligate the current funding allocation. Irrigators that have high priority resource concerns and are interested in participation in EQIP may apply at any time at your local NRCS or CCCD office at 210 South Cimarron or by calling (580) 544-2812. All applications received will be evaluated according to the statewide ranking criteria as workload permits and reviewed for potential funding as program allocations become available.
Boise City News