The Illinois Pork Producers Association (IPPA) is urging producers to take advantage of the improved Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) cost-share funding now available through the U.S. Agriculture Department's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

EQIP provides cost-share assistance ranging from 50-75% to improve hog operations through conservation practices.

“We believe that EQIP funds will be critical for helping many Illinois pork producers of all sizes make necessary changes to their operations and remain a viable business in the future,” says IPPA President Art Lehmann, a Strawn, IL, producer.

For 2005, more than $12.6 million will be allocated through EQIP to deal with natural resource concerns; 60% of the funding goes to livestock producers.

Changes for 2005 include:

  • Cost-share increases from 50% to 75% for composting facilities.

  • Cost-share allowances of 60% apply to the purchase of portable pumps and agitators. Previously, these components for manure transfer had to be fixed.

  • A more simplified process has been developed for obtaining the Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan (CNMP) $1,000 incentive payment. NRCS will give $1,000 incentive payments to producers who enter into EQIP contracts for a CNMP to be developed in 2005. CNMP applications are not ranked. Producers must qualify. Contracts are approved monthly and producers get payment as soon as the CNMP is developed.

  • All pork producers are eligible for EQIP funds. There are no longer priority watersheds that determine which producers are eligible for funding.

Producers can sign up for EQIP funds at their county NRCS office.