The Department of Agriculture wants input on proposed changes to the Environmental Quality Incentives Program known as EQIP. 

The rule takes effect upon publication and includes changes to the program in the 2019 farm bill. 

Natural Resources Conservation Service chief Matt Lohr says the new rule will “enable NRCS to better support locally-led conservation efforts while also expanding producers’ ability to address significant resource concerns.”

NRCS will make available $1.2 billion for producers in fiscal 2020, and NRCS state offices will announce signup periods for EQIP in the coming weeks. 

Changes to EQIP include creating incentive contracts and payments for incentive practices. 

The new rule requires NRCS to offer an advance payment option for historically underserved producers. 

USDA also proposes changing the payment cap for producers participating in the Organic Initiative to $140,000 for contracts entered between fiscal 2019 through 2023. 

Finally, the new rule expands the Conservation Innovation Grant program. The comment period closes February 18, 2020.