Custom Planning and Integrated Solutions
When the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) was presented
in the 2002 Farm Bill, it offered new opportunities for farmers and
ranchers to match customized solutions to their unique operations.
Alan and Susie Anderson are using EQIP to improve native rangeland on their 6,200-acre commercial cattle operation outside of Lonerock in northeast Oregon.
At one time, the herd’s only source of water on the entire operation came
from naturally flowing creeks. Over time, this led to increased grazing pressure
near the water, but left upland areas under-utilized. The Andersons contacted
the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to inquire about opportunities
to address these concerns with EQIP. They decided to enroll and received
planning and cost-share assistance in the development of a resource management
system that protects streambanks from erosion and establishes a grazing plan
that maintains the health of native rangeland.
“NRCS can provide the technical and perhaps financial assistance, planning, and knowledge of the programs and projects in a positive, proactive approach,” he added.
EQIP assistance helped the Andersons implement prescribed grazing, brush management, and erosion control measures. In addition, program cost share offset the cost of fencing to divide pastures into separate units and troughs to distribute water to each.
“The additional water sources have improved the distribution of livestock on our native rangelands,” he said.
Measures have resulted in reduced erosion near creeks, better grazing
distribution, and improved forage production. Encouraging the cattle to use a
larger area allows native grasses time to regenerate and better compete with
aggressive plants, like juniper and sage brush. With the improvements in place,
the cattle themselves have become a range management tool that protects a
healthy native plant community.
“When you combine these factors, the incentives were apparent, and the decision to implement was easy!”
The process of working through NRCS conservation programs was a smooth one for the couple. According to Anderson, “We have found the NRCS as a whole, but especially the local staff, to be proactive in forming and fostering partnerships with us, going the extra mile to work with us, and staying the course until completion and follow-up.”
“They will try to find solutions that work for all stakeholders in the project,” he said.
EQIP is a voluntary conservation program that helps people address local
natural resource priorities like water quality, air quality and wildlife
habitat, while improving agricultural production. Producers who enroll in the
program receive not only cost share to install structural and management
practices, but also one-on-one conservation technical assistance from the
Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).
This individualized assistance helps producers explore ways to incorporate multiple practices and techniques that function together to maximize both conservation and production benefits. Conservation planners call the suite of interrelated practices that address an operation’s overall natural resource needs a Resource Management System; farmers and ranchers just call it good business.
Either way you look at it, EQIP is offering Oregon’s farmers and ranchers another valuable tool in the conservation toolbox to help them protect the resources that support their businesses.
More information about EQIP is available on the NRCS Web site.
NRCS—Helping people help the land.
The Natural Resources Conservation Service provides leadership
in a partnership effort to help people
conserve, maintain, and improve our natural resources and environment.
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