MADISON, Wis. — The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has announced they will begin utilizing the new Act Now policy, which offers additional flexibilities for eligible Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) applicants enrolled in the Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative (MRBI) and National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI). These NRCS initiatives were designed to help agricultural producers within high-priority watershed areas implement voluntary conservation practices to control nutrient runoff, improve water quality and wildlife habitat, and maintain agricultural productivity.
Through Act Now, Wisconsin NRCS can immediately preapprove all EQIP applications eligible through the MRBI and NWQI. However, all applications must meet the planning requirements as defined within each project, in addition to meeting or exceeding the determined minimum ranking score. “Under the Act Now policy, eligible applicants receive automatic approval to proceed in the process, eliminating the need to wait to be ranked and preapproved for all applications within a given timeframe,” said Wisconsin NRCS Acting State Conservationist Josh Odekirk, adding that this policy allows for applications to have a much shorter turnaround time, with contracts developed in just a few weeks.
Program applications are accepted on a continuous basis, however, applications eligible through the identified Act Now ranking will only be accepted until May 17, 2024. Wisconsin NRCS will begin funding eligible applications after January 5, 2024, and will continue making funding decisions every 2 weeks as funds are available.
Within the larger Rush River watershed in Pierce and St. Croix counties, five sub-watersheds are eligible under the MRBI, including Town of Martell-Rush River, Goose Creek-Trimbelle River, Spring Creek-Trimbelle River, Little Trimbelle River, and Crystal Springs Coulee-Rush River. Eligible watersheds under the NWQI watersheds include Bear Lake-Little Wolf River in Waupaca County, Town of La Prairie & City of Beloit Lower Rock River East in Rock County, and Sinsinawa River in Grant County.
Potential applicants with eligible land(s) and producers with applications currently on file are encouraged to “act now” by contacting your local Service Center!
For more information on EQIP or other NRCS programs, please visit the Wisconsin NRCS homepage at www.nrcs.usda.gov/wi or contact your local NRCS Service Center by using the Service Center Locator below.
— USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service