USDA Secretary Ann Veneman announced an additional $1 million in Environmental Quality Incentives Program funds will be provided to Ohio livestock producers to improve manure and forage management in recognition of the state's performance in soil and water conservation.

"These funds will be targeted to livestock operators in approximately 35 Ohio counties to help improve soil, air and water resources on private working lands," said Veneman.

EQIP was reauthorized in the 2002 Farm Bill to provide a voluntary conservation program for farmers and ranchers that promotes agricultural production and environmental quality as compatible national goals. EQIP offers financial and technical help to assist eligible participants install or implement structural and management conservation practices on eligible agricultural land.

This additional $1 million will bring the EQIP investment in Ohio to $13 million; providing assistance for more than 1200 new EQIP contracts, statewide.

In determining the award, USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service considered factors such as effectively addressing national priorities, strategic planning and program implementation, addressing state and local resource concerns, program delivery effectiveness, use of technical service providers and contracts with limited resource farmers and ranchers.

The following Ohio counties received additional EQIP funds: Adams, Ashland, Athens, Belmont, Carroll, Clark, Coshocton, Crawford, Cuyahoga, Darke, Delaware, Erie, Gallia, Geauga, Guernsey, Harrison, Highland, Hocking, Holmes, Huron, Jefferson, Knox, Lorain, Meigs, Miami, Monroe, Morgan, Morrow, Muskingum, Perry, Preble, Richland, Washington, Wayne and Wood.

More information on EQIP is available at NRCS's Web site at http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/eqip/.