How EQIP Works

How the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) Works

EQIP is a continuous sign-up, voluntary, conservation program administered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) that provides financial and technical assistance for approved conservation practices based on a current conservation plan.

The purposes of the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) is to promote agricultural production, forest management, and environmental quality as compatible goals; optimize environmental benefits; and help farmers and ranchers meet Federal, State, Tribal, and local environmental regulations.

NRCS encourages customers to submit an application at any time. EQIP applications are accepted on a continuous basis with periodic application ranking cut-offs when applications are ranked for funding. Applications received after the application ranking cut-off will be considered in the next ranking period.

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. A conservation plan is the basis for an EQIP application.

EQIP cannot provide financial assistance for the same practice enrolled on the same land as any other USDA conservation program.

On-Farm Conservation Planning

A conservation plan is the basis for an EQIP application. Applicants will need an up-to-date conservation plan that describes the conservation practices to be implemented, the timing of the implementation, the practice location, and the conservation benefit to be achieved.

NRCS will work with producers to develop a plan of operations that:

  • Identifies the appropriate conservation practice or measures needed to address identified natural resource concerns
  • Implements conservation practices and activities according to an EQIP plan of operations developed in conjunction with the producer that identifies the appropriate conservation practice or measures needed to address identified natural resource concerns. The practices are subject to NRCS technical standards adapted for local conditions.

Producers may use a certified Technical Service Provider (TSP) for technical assistance needed for certain eligible activities, services and the development of conservation plans.

EQIP Initiatives: Ranking and Funding Pools

EQIP Initiatives are funding opportunities created to assure funds are available to resource priorities across various land use types, for special emphasis resource needs and to assure that underserved groups have access to assistance.

An EQIP Initiative is a ranking and funding pool where similar applications are evaluated.  Applications for an EQIP Initiative will be evaluated based on screening and ranking criteria that consider the benefits of planned conservation practices as identified by local, state and national priorities.

Payment Limitations

Participants may not receive, directly or indirectly, payments that, in the aggregate, exceed $300,000 for all EQIP contracts entered into during any six-year period.

Participants whose projects NRCS determines to have special environmental significance may petition the NRCS Chief for the payment limitation to be waived to a maximum of $450,000.

Additional payment limitations apply to producers enrolled in the EQIP Organic Initiative.

Historically Underserved Producers

Historically underserved producers (limited resource farmers/ranchers, beginning farmers/ranchers, socially disadvantaged producers, Tribes) may be eligible for a higher practice payment rate for the implementation for conservation practices and conservation plans.

Historically underserved producers may also be eligible for advance payments up to 30 percent of the cost needed to purchase materials or contracting services to begin installation of approved conservation practices.


Alan Forkey, Program Manager
Phone: 530-792-5653

Erik Beardsley, Program Specialist
Phone: 530-792-5649