Rebates, discounts and special prices — especially for large purchases — are all things that capture a buyer’s attention. For large purchases, these could make the difference in whether or not you sign on the dotted line.
For farmers, modernizing their irrigation equipment can seem like an out-of-reach financial proposition. But there is the potential for significant financial reimbursement through federal government programs that are aimed at helping farmers improve their practices in protecting natural resources. Applying for and utilizing these government programs might not be as difficult as growers think, and the payoff can be monumental.
Applying for and utilizing these government programs might not be as difficult as growers think, and the payoff can be monumental.
One of the programs offered through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service is the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, known as EQIP, which is funded through the farm bill.
The EQIP program is a voluntary conservation program that provides eligible farmers and ranchers financial and technical help with installing conservation practices on agricultural land. The program helps producers plan and implement improvements to address natural resource concerns and deliver environmental benefits. These benefits include improved water and air quality, conserved ground and surface water, increased soil health, reduced soil erosion and sedimentation, improved or created wildlife habitat, and mitigation against drought and increasing weather volatility.
For an irrigator, the EQIP program can be utilized to help support changes in an operation toward more efficient irrigation methods and practices, which not only helps protect the critical water supply but also saves money through decreased input costs. Many growers have utilized EQIP funding to convert irrigation land to more efficient irrigation systems.
Farmers, ranchers and forest landowners who own or rent agricultural land are eligible. EQIP assistance can be used on all types of agricultural operations, including
In 2021, NRCS provided $10 million to support climate-smart agriculture and forestry through targeted EQIP signup in specific states. One of the climate-smart conservation practices prioritized in this targeted EQIP signup period included improving conservation management for rice production, such as using alternate wetting and drying. This pilot will be expanded through a comprehensive effort across all states and programs to support farmers in fiscal year 2022.
The NRCS suggests five steps to start the process of getting technical and financial assistance.
Financial assistance for large projects is the initial draw for government programs such as EQIP. But, technical and planning assistance provided during these projects is a significant benefit. Through EQIP, NRCS provides agricultural producers with one-on-one help to plan, design and implement improvements in their operations.
Through this assistance, NRCS staff also help ensure that the equipment is installed and working properly and operating at optimal efficiency. When making large-scale irrigation system conversions, this technical assistance provided from the planning process to inspection can be invaluable.
Together, NRCS and producers co-invest in solutions that conserve natural resources for the future while improving agricultural operations.
In addition to federal programs, some states also provide state-specific programs that can provide similar assistance for projects focused on efficient irrigation.
The State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program in California is one example. Known as SWEEP, this program provides financial assistance in the form of grants to implement irrigation systems that reduce greenhouse gases and save water on California agricultural operations. Eligible system components include (among others) soil moisture monitoring, drip systems, switching to low pressure irrigation systems, pump retrofits, variable frequency drives and installation of renewable energy to reduce on-farm water use and energy.
For more information, go to www.cdfa.ca.gov/oefi/sweep.