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Program Eligibility

 
To be eligible to participate in EQIP, an applicant must meet the producer and land program eligibility criteria listed below.
 
To be eligible to participate in EQIP, an applicant must meet all of the following producer eligibility criteria:
 
 
To be considered a producer, the applicant must be:
  • A person, legal entity, Indian Tribe, native corporation, or joint operation with signature authority.
  • Engaged in agricultural production or forestry management or have an interest in the agricultural or forestry operation associated with the land being offered for enrollment in EQIP.
Note: Interest in the agricultural operation means one of the following: (a) an owner or renter of the land in the agricultural operation; (b) an interest in the agricultural products, commodities, or livestock produced by the agricultural operation; or, (c) a member of a joint operation that either owns or rents land in the agricultural operation or has an interest in the agricultural products, commodities, or livestock produced by the agricultural operation.
 
 
Control of Land Requirements:
  • Control of land means possession of the land by deeded ownership, written lease, or other legal agreement.
  • The applicant will self-certify control of land and the relationship (owner, operator, or both), including the specific dates control is granted (lease or other agreement), on Form NRCS-CPA-1200, “Conservation Program Application,” at the time of application.
  • If the applicant is a tenant, the applicant must obtain written evidence or assurance of control from the landowner prior to the obligation of an EQIP contract.
  • NRCS conducts control of land reviews at the end of the fiscal year to verify that an EQIP participant has written evidence, or assurance of control of land, for the life of the contract.
 
Landowner Concurrence to Implement Structural or Vegetative Practices:
  • In addition to control of land self-certification, tenants must obtain, and provide to NRCS before obligation of an EQIP contract, written concurrence of the landowner to apply a structural or vegetative practice.
  • Any practice with a lifespan 2 years and greater must have concurrence by the landowner.
  • In lieu of written concurrence, the landowner may be signatory to the contract with zero percent payment shares to indicate their concurrence. Zero percent payment share signatories are not subject to eligibility requirements and will not receive program payments.
 
Highly Erodible Land (HEL) and Wetland Conservation Compliance Requirements:
  • Form AD-1026, “Highly Erodible Land Conservation and Wetland Conservation," is used to make HEL and wetland conservation compliance determinations.
  • NRCS will verify HEL and wetland conservation compliance before obligation of an EQIP contract, changes by a modification, and before each payment.
Note: A person who is determined ineligible for USDA program benefits under the highly erodible land conservation (HELC) and wetland conservation (WC) provisions of the Food Security Act of 1985 may not participate in applicable programs or receive any payments for the crop year that the person is found ineligible and, for HELC, all subsequent years that the person remains ineligible. For violations of the WC provisions, a person will not be eligible to participate or receive benefits for the crop year of the conversion and all subsequent crop years.
 
 
Exception: (1) Federally recognized Native American Indian Tribes are exempt from adjusted gross income requirements. (2) 2014 Farm Bill AGI provisions do not apply to any EQIP contracts obligated in FY 2014; this includes all contract participants, entity members and successors of these contracts.
 
Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) Requirements:
  • Form CCC-941, “Average Adjusted Gross Income Certification and Consent to Disclosure of Tax Information," is used to make AGI determinations.
  • The Chief may waive the AGI requirement for applicants in the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) if the RCPP partner requested an AGI waiver as part of  the RCPP agreement. An RCPP applicant will submit the AGI waiver request to the NRCS field office.
Note: A person or legal entity is not eligible to receive program payments if his, her, or its average AGI exceeds certain amounts specified in the authorizing statute or regulation. Previously ineligible applicants may reapply in subsequent years. Any payment issued to a legal entity, general partnership, or joint operation that has members who do not meet the AGI requirement will be reduced by an amount that is commensurate with their direct or indirect ownership interest (member share).
 
 
Exception: Federally recognized Native American Indian Tribes are exempt from payment limitation requirements.
 
Payment Limitation Requirements:
  • Payments made to a person or legal entity, directly or indirectly, for financial assistance practices, in aggregate, may not exceed $450,000 for EQIP contracts during the period of fiscal years 2014 through 2018.
  • There is no authority to waive the $450,000 payment limitation.
  • EQIP payments will be tracked by entity tax identification numbers (EIN) and Social Security numbers (SSN).
    • EQIP payments paid to an entity will be tracked only to the entity’s tax identification number.
    • EQIP payments will be attributed to individuals who either received an EQIP payment directly or indirectly by holding an interest in an entity that received the EQIP payment.
    • Individuals who are members of joint operations, partners in a general partnership, or participants in a joint venture may be eligible for a separate $450,000 payment limitation if all of the following apply: (i) Each individual has a separate and distinct interest in the land or the agricultural, forestry, or livestock production involved; (ii) Each individual exercises separate responsibility for such interest; and, (iii) Each individual maintains funds or accounts separate from that of any individual or entity for such interest.
Note: Payments made on contracts obligated prior to February 8, 2014, do not debit the 2014 Farm Bill $450,000 payment limit.
 
 
Exception: Federally recognized Native American Indian Tribes  may exceed the annual payment limitation for contracts associated with the Organic Initiative.
 
Annual Payment Limitation Requirements:
  • Payments associated with Organic Initiative contracts made either directly or indirectly to a person or legal entity are limited to $20,000 per fiscal year and $80,000 during any 6-year period.
  • There is no authority to waive the annual or the total payment limitation for Organic Initiative contracts.
  • Participants who are a party to multiple contracts and have reached the annual payment limitation will have reductions made at the time of payment.
  • Producers receiving payment under an Organic Initiative contract must be pursuing organic certification or must be in compliance with the Organic Foods Production Act.
Note: Split payments are not allowed. When payment requests for completed practices exceed the annual limitation for a person or legal entity, the portion that exceeds the limitation will not be deferred to the next fiscal year. Incremental payments are not allowed. Participants may work ahead of schedule, but certification of completed practices may not be delayed or postponed to circumvent the annual payment limitations.
 
 
DUNS and SAM Requirements:
  •  An applicant using an Employer Identification Number (EIN) must obtain a DUNS number at fedgov.dnb.com/webform and register the number in SAM at www.SAM.gov in order to receive Federal financial assistance payments.
  • These requirements are mandated by the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act (The Transparency Act) and are implemented through the Office of Management and Budget regulations.
    •  A DUNS number is a unique nine-character identification number Dun & Bradstreet provides free of charge.
    • There is NO charge to register or maintain your entity registration record in SAM.
  • An applicant will provide on Form NRCS-CPA-1200, “Conservation Program Application,” their DUNS number and SAM registration activation date at the time of application.
    • An EQIP participant must maintain and annually renew their SAM.gov registration for the duration of the contract.
    • It is the participant’s responsibility to take the required actions to maintain their registration as active and failure to maintain current registration is a contract violation warranting termination.
    • Payments made to a participant who has not obtained a DUNS number and/or maintained their SAM registration are considered improper payments and subject to collection.
Note: NRCS does not have authority to waive an entity’s failure to meet the DUNS or SAM.gov requirements nor does NRCS have any input or control with respect to the ability of an entity to obtain a DUNS number or to register in SAM.gov. NRCS employees may not complete the DUNS number and registration process for applicants.
 
 
NRCS will not approve contracts with landlords who—
  • Do not give tenants and sharecroppers an opportunity to participate in EQIP.
  • Reduce the number of tenants and sharecroppers in anticipation of EQIP participation.
Landlord and tenant, or sharecropper, provisions do not apply when either of the following apply:
  • The tenant or sharecropper was removed for cause in accordance with State law, as determined by the Office of the General Counsel regional attorney.
  • The tenant or sharecropper left the farm voluntarily without any coercion from the landlord.
Note: If there is a dispute between landlord and tenant or sharecropper, NRCS will not approve the EQIP contract until the landlord and tenant or sharecropper resolve their dispute.
 
 
 
To be eligible for EQIP, the land must meet all of the following criteria:
  1. Be agricultural land, nonindustrial private forest land, Tribal land, or other land on which agricultural products, livestock, or forest-related products are produced.
  2. Be privately owned land, eligible public land, or Tribal land.
  3. Have landowner concurrence to implement structural or vegetative practices, if applicable.
  4. Planned practices address an identified natural resource concern.
  5. Have irrigated 2 out of the last 5 years to install an irrigation-related practice.
 
Note: Land enrolled in other conservation programs may be ineligible. EQIP does not pay for the same practice on the same land that has received payment or other benefit from any other EQIP contract or any other USDA conservation program. If an overlap exists for any part of the same practice, that practice would be considered a duplicative practice and not authorized for payment under EQIP. Land enrolled in the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) under the wetland reserve easement component or its predecessor, the Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP), is not eligible for enrollment in EQIP. Land enrolled in ACEP under the agricultural land easement (ALE) component or its predecessor programs, the Farm and Ranch Land Protection Program (FRPP) or Grassland Reserve Program (GRP), may be eligible for enrollment in EQIP.
 
 
 
An applicant will self-certify on Form NRCS-CPA-1200, “Conservation Program Application,” if the land offered for enrollment is used for crop (including forest-related) or livestock production.
  • Agricultural products recorded on the application could include, but are not limited to, the following:
    • Barley, Corn, Cotton, Forage, hay, or pasture, Oats, Oil seed, Rice, Sorghum, Soybeans, Wheat, Peanuts, Potatoes, Tobacco, Trees (including orchards, Christmas trees, forests), Berries, Coffee, Grapes (including vineyards), Fruits, Nuts, Ornamental plants (including flowers and bulbs), Ginseng, Grass seed, Sod, Sugarcane, Sugar beets, Sugar maple, Vegetables, Other crops (Including plant materials grown in greenhouses or seasonal high tunnels or crops for subsistence).
  • Livestock production (defined as agricultural operations involving the production, growing, raising, or reproducing of domestic livestock or livestock product) recorded on the application, could include, but are not limited to the following animals:
    • Beef, Dairy, Goats, Horses (regardless of the operation type), Poultry, Sheep, Swine, Aquaculture products (including fish, bivalves, or other animals raised through aquaculture methods), Bees (domesticated honey bees), Bison, Deer, Elk, Llamas, Mules Rabbits, Turkeys, Alpacas, Emus, Ratites, Other livestock (all other domesticated livestock or fowl).
  • Nonindustrial private forest land (NIPF) is rural land that meets both of the following criteria:
    • Has existing tree cover or is suitable for growing trees.
    • Is owned by any nonindustrial private individual, group, association, corporation, Indian Tribe, or other private legal entity.
  • Permanently submerged lands may be eligible only if all of the following apply:
    • The EQIP practices to be implemented are land-based.
    • The Farm Service Agency establishes farm records, common land unit (CLU) information, and completes HEL/WC determinations for the submerged land area.
    • The proposed EQIP practices address an identified natural resource concern.
 
An applicant will self-certify on Form NRCS-CPA-1200, “Conservation Program Application,” that land offered for enrollment is at least one of the following:
  • Privately owned land.
  • Publicly owned land.
  • Tribal land.
  • Publicly owned land (federal, state or local government) may be eligible if it meets all of the following criteria:
    • The land is a working component of the applicant’s agricultural land operation.
    • The applicant has control of the land for the term of the contract.
    • The conservation practices to be implemented on the public land are necessary and will contribute to an improvement in the identified natural resource concern.
  • Tribal land includes any of the following criteria:
    • Land held in trust by the United States for individual Native American Indians or Native American Indian Tribes.
    • Land, the title to which is held by individual Native American Indians or Native American Indian Tribes subject to Federal restrictions against alienation or encumbrance.
    • Land that is subject to rights of use, occupancy, and/or benefit of certain Native American Indians Tribes.
    • Land held in fee title by an Native American Indian, Native American Indian family, or Native American Indian Tribe.
 
Landowner Concurrence to Implement Structural or Vegetative Practices:
  • Tenants must obtain, and provide to NRCS before obligation of an EQIP contract, written concurrence of the landowner to apply a structural or vegetative practice.
  • Any practice with a lifespan 2 years and greater must have concurrence by the landowner.
  • In lieu of written concurrence, the landowner may be signatory to the contract with zero percent payment shares to indicate their concurrence. Zero percent payment share signatories are not subject to eligibility requirements and will not receive program payments.
 
Resource concerns and planned practices are identified during the conservation planning process.
  • A conservation plan includes all practices, regardless of financial assistance, that a producer or landowner has agreed to adopt for the agricultural operation and/or associated agricultural lands.
  • Interested applicants are encouraged to request conservation planning and technical assistance from a local NRCS field office to help with the development of a conservation plan.
  • For more information about the conservation planning process contact the service center in the county your land is located and visit the Conservation Planning in California webpage.
 
Exception: When an irrigation-related conservation practice is implemented for a purpose of applying liquid waste generated from an AFO to pasture or cropland, the irrigation history requirement does not apply.
 
Irrigation History Requirement:
  • An applicant will provide written self-certification to NRCS a record of irrigation history, by year, and crops produced on the land.
  • A record of irrigation history is required when the purpose of the planned practice is to conserve water and address the “Insufficient Water - Inefficient Use of Irrigation Water” natural resource concern.
Note: In some situations, a socially disadvantaged or limited-resource farmer or rancher applicant or an Indian Tribe applicant can request an irrigation history waiver.
 

Contacts

Alan Forkey, Program Manager
Phone: 530-792-5653
Email: Alan.Forkey@ca.usda.gov

Erik Beardsley, Program Specialist
Phone: 530-792-5649
Email: Erik.Beardsley@ca.usda.gov