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EQIP and WHIP public comment period extended

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HURON, S.D. – The public comment period for the interim final rules for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program and the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program have been extended to April 17. Initially posted mid-January, the comment period was to expire mid-March.

Comments will help shape the 2008 Farm Bill conservation programs administered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service. The USDA-NRCS encourages written comments on the interim final rules for these conservation programs, from individuals as well as governmental agencies and nongovernmental organizations during the open comment period.

EQIP is a voluntary program that provides financial and technical assistance to farmers and ranchers who face threats to soil, water, air and related natural resources on their land. Through EQIP, the NRCS provides financial incentives to producers to promote agricultural production and environmental quality as compatible goals, optimize environmental benefits, and help farmers and ranchers meet federal, state, tribal and local environmental regulations.

WHIP is a voluntary program for private landowners to develop and improve high quality habitat that supports wildlife populations of national, state, tribal and local significance. Through WHIP, the NRCS provides technical and financial assistance. WHIP agreements generally last from 5 to 10 years.

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The conservation provisions as amended by the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (2008 Farm Bill) will continue conservation opportunities for farmers and ranchers for years to come. These provisions build on the conservation gains made through previous Farm Bills, and will continue to aid collaborative efforts to further voluntary conservation efforts on working lands.

Since its inception in 1935, NRCS’ conservation delivery system continues a unique partnership, delivering conservation that respects local needs, while accommodating state and national interests.