A Heads Up on USDA Conservation Programs
EQIP, CRP, CSP, ACEP and others are great programs aimed at improving soil and water issues on your farm. They are Farm Bill dollars and are awarded to landowners based on the most environmental benefit for each dollar spent. Here are a few things to remember when applying for these dollars:
1) If accepted into a program such as EQIP, you will now be in a government contract with 20 page appendice. Be aware of what you are signing as you must implement each practice on schedule according to standards and specifications. You cannot get out of the contract unless there are health issues or a death in the family.
2) Know the ranking process. In other words - you can position yourself and rank high in the application process by having a legitimate "resorce concern". Ask your local DC about how to do this.
3) Be in constant communication with the local NRCS office. This is critical, especially if implementing a complicated practice that has engineering blueprints or concrete specs. Make sure to ask what is needed to get reimbursed for the practice if a 3rd party contractor is involved - NRCS will not reimburse if the practice is not installed properly.