A leading cost share program in the area of environmental protection is the Environmental Quality Incentive Program, also known as EQIP. It is administered by the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), a division of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). NRCS-EQIP provides both financial and technical environmental benefits on working agricultural lands.
Interior fencing to promote better rotational grazing on farms is a popular practice that is eligible in EQIP. Large pastures cut into smaller paddocks allows a farm to implement rotational grazing. This improved management practice results in more ground cover from grasses and legumes, reduced runoff and soil erosion and reduced need for purchased hay. Stream crossing is another eligible practice. Streambed traffic, from livestock or vehicles, can erode the stream bank, causing changes in the flow and affect the wildlife that live in or near the stream.
NRCS-EQIP funds are available to all commodities and livestock farms. Within the state of Kentucky, there is no minimum acreage requirement for participation. Interested applicants should visit their local NRCS office to become more familiar with what EQIP offers and the requirements for participating in the program.
The County Agricultural Investment Program (CAIP) is a cost share program available through the Kentucky Agricultural Development Fund (KADF) and the Kentucky Governor’s Office of Agricultural Policy (GOAP). CAIP aims to increase net farm income, add value to products and diversify operations. All of these things make a farm more profitable and more likely to stay in agricultural production.
Investments of CAIP may include commodity storage. Dry hay storage on farms can significantly reduce waste, therefore lowering the annual hay expense. Dry hay also retains quality better and is more likely to meet the needs of the animals without the need for additional supplementation. Other investment areas could be improving pasture productivity with seed, fertilizer or herbicide applications as well as fencing improvements or construction of run in sheds and equipment storage buildings. Check with your local county extension agent about the availability and eligibility of CAIP or other local cost share programs.
Most agricultural cost share programs will in some way involve either the local Cooperative Extension Office (state) or the local NRCS District Office (federal). Both of these agencies can provide a wealth of technical information to all types of producers, and can work with producers to be aware of cost share opportunities and assist in the application process. If you are interested in learning more about cost share programs available in your state or local area, contact your county agent and natural resource manager.
~ Krista Lea, S. Ray Smith and Linda McClanahan