The goal of the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) is to encourage farmers to use conservation practices on their land that reduce farm runoff, improve water and air quality and preserve wildlife habitat. The initial implementation of a new conservation practice can be costly; this program helps provide funding to farmers who volunteer and who meet the eligibility requirements. More information about the program can be found here.
Agricultural practices are the primary cause of the Dead Zone in the Gulf of Mexico. Conservation efforts should help reduce agriculture’s impact on the gulf, but a new report released by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) found that relying on voluntary participation for conservation effort is not enough. Their report recommends targeting taxpayer money to the highest priority locations, particularly in the Mississippi River watershed, to make the most of the money and to have the most improvement on water quality.
This new EWG report is called Making EQIP Work for Water Quality in 10 Mississippi River Border States. The EWG recommends that the USDA NRCS takes action to increase the effectiveness of the EQIP program, including setting specific goals for how much pollution needs to be reduced, identifying which lakes, streams or tributaries are priorities for improvement, and setting a timetable to achieve the goals.
More information about this report can be found here.