Farmers and landowners in the 25 Arkansas StrikeForce counties have until Feb. 13 to submit applications to receive cost-share assistance to implement conservation activities through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) for the 2012 program year. Applicants can sign up at their local NRCS field service center.

Individuals and other entities engaged in livestock and/or crop production are eligible to participate in EQIP. Eligible land includes cropland, pasture, private non-industrial forest land, and other farm and ranch lands.

Arkansas is one of three pilot states participating in the StrikeForce Initiative. It is designed to help relieve persistent poverty in high poverty counties by accelerating USDA assistance while working closely with Community Based Organizations. The StrikeForce Initiative counties are: Arkansas, Bradley, Chicot, Clark, Columbia, Dallas, Desha, Drew, Hempstead, Howard, Jackson, Lafayette, Lawrence, Lee Mississippi, Monroe, Nevada, Newton, Ouachita, Phillips, Randolph, Searcy, Sevier, St. Francis, and Woodruff.

“The StrikeForce Initiative is helping us direct additional resources to better serve producers in persistent poverty rural communities,” said NRCS State Conservationist Mike Sullivan. “We are focusing on these identified high poverty counties to help improve the quality of life of producers and to accelerate implementation of conservation practices on their land.”

NRCS uses EQIP as a tool to help farmers be stewards of the nation’s resources. EQIP is a voluntary conservation program administered by NRCS. As authorized in the 2008 farm bill, it supports production agriculture and environmental quality as compatible goals. Through EQIP, agricultural producers may receive financial and technical help with structural and management conservation practices on agricultural land.

Landowners wanting more information about the USDA’s StrikeForce Initiative should contact NRCS at their local USDA Service Center, listed in phone directories under U.S. Government, or contact Charlie Williams, USDA StrikeForce Leader, at (870) 814-3052 or at charlie.williams@ar.usda.gov.