Conservation cost share applications for the popular Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) are being accepted for funding consideration in fiscal year 2009 now through Dec. 5, 2008, at USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) offices throughout California.

This is an extended date from the previously announced deadline that helps ensure a fair and equitable opportunity for customers to apply for conservation cost share assistance.

The program, providing financial and technical assistance to farmers and ranchers for natural resource improvements, received a record $53,959,920 in funding in California for 2008.

"All of our programs provide helpful tools for balancing agricultural productivity with natural resource protection, but EQIP is our flagship conservation program," says NRCS State Conservationist Ed Burton. "Combined with technical assistance and conservation planning, EQIP has had a huge impact on the California landscape and I expect these benefits to continue and expand in the next year and forward into this farm bill."

The 2008 farm bill, passed on May 22, 2008, includes several conservation programs administered by NRCS and the USDA's Farm Service Agency. These include the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program, Conservation Stewardship Program, Wetlands Reserve Program, Grasslands Reserve Program, Farmland Protection Program, Conservation Reserve Program and others.

Many of the program details and procedures for farm bill programs will continue to be outlined in coming months as the program rules, written in Washington, D.C., become available for public comment. Applications for EQIP are accepted year round.

The new, extended deadline of Dec. 5, 2008, reflects the cut off for funding consideration during the 2009 fiscal year.

For more information, contact NRCS’ Alan Forkey at (530)-792-5653.