USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) District Conservationist John L. Freeman, Jr. announces applications for funding opportunities with the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) are currently being accepted at the NRCS offices located at 548 S. Hwy 77 Robstown Texas.

NRCS in Texas has received its initial allocation of EQIP funding in 2013 and will begin ranking and obligating EQIP contracts after February 15. All agriculture producers interested in submitting a contract application for 2013 should do so before this ranking deadline.

EQIP — one of the largest programs in the Farm Bill — is a voluntary conservation program that promotes environmental quality and assists producers to meet local, state and federal regulations.

“EQIP is a valuable tool to help Nueces County’s agricultural producers implement conservation practices that provide environmental benefits to help sustain agricultural operations,” says Freeman.

EQIP is a continuous sign-up program that allows landowners or operators to apply for financial and technical assistance for the application of specific conservation practices; but the deadline for the first 2013 funding is February 15, 2013. Contracts are offered periodically depending on budgetary allocations. Applications made after the deadline will be considered in the next funding cycle. Higher priority will be given to those applications that address national, state and local priorities and provide higher cost efficiency.

EQIP offers technical and financial help to install or implement structural, vegetative, and management practices that can benefit the soil, water, air, plants, livestock, and wildlife. Each county in the state is funded yearly to assist producers financially with these land management practices.

Last year, NRCS in Texas funded over 4,000 EQIP contracts with $76 million to accomplish conservation practices such as irrigation efficiency, minimum tillage, brush management and more on 2.1 million acres across the entire state. In addition to helping our environment, Farm Bill conservation program funds support rural communities. In Texas, it is estimated that each dollar of NRCS and private matching expenditures on NRCS conservation programs generates an additional $2.54 in sales of goods and services.

For more information, including eligibility requirements, call the USDA Service Center office in Robstown at (361) 387-2533 x 3. Service center locations and program information can be found on the Texas NRCS Web site at