The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) was developed to encourage producer adoption of practices that promote resource conservation on lands in agricultural production. Reviewing the 2002 Farm Bill, EQIP rules, and local EQIP structure using Michigan as a case study, producers had ample opportunity to participate in EQIP. Yet past EQIP support of pest, nutrient, and conservation vegetation management was low among six states from 1997 to 2002, averaging 1.1% to 2.7% of total EQIP funds allocated. The past funding pattern and analysis of local resource concern priorities and incentive rates suggested that program modifications were warranted. The Michigan case study showed that participation in the NRCS advisory process, in partnership with commodity representatives and university specialists, was an effective avenue to recommend and obtain local EQIP modifications. After modifications were accepted in Michigan, increases were seen in producer participation in EQIP and in funds committed (about 15%) to adoption of a variety of techniques with pest, nutrient, and conservation vegetation value. This approach of analysis and engagement in the EQIP process is likely to work in other states, given common EQIP structure and governance, past funding patterns, and availability of supporting extension, research, and commodity partners.
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