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Environmental Quality Incentives Program

Subject to revision by the Connecticut State Technical Committee

Applications are accepted on a continuous basis.
The next batching date is Friday, December 19, 2014.

Some of the following documents require Adobe Acrobat.

EQIP is a voluntary conservation program for persons who are engaged in livestock, forestry, or agricultural production, including organic production. EQIP offers financial and technical assistance to implement conservation practices on eligible agricultural land.

Decisions related to how a crop is produced affect the environment, and vice-versa. EQIP provides payments for implementing conservation practices that have a positive environmental impact, while protecting long-term agricultural production and sustainability. NRCS professionals work with producers to develop a conservation plan for their operation, design conservation practices, and provide guidance to help implement the plan.

Who is Eligible?

Applicants must have current crop and producer records on file with the Farm Service Agency. They must own or control the land for the term of the proposed contract, agree to implement specific eligible conservation practices according to the contract schedule, and have an interest in an agricultural operation.

To be eligible for funding for livestock practices, the livestock must have been housed or grazed on land under the operator’s control for at least 12 of the previous 36 months, with an allowance for normal variations in animal numbers.

In order for land to be eligible for an irrigation-related practice in EQIP (including irrigation engines) that land must have been irrigated in 2 out of the last 5 years. In addition, irrigation water management must be implemented on all land contracted for an irrigation-related practice for 3 consecutive years following the practice implementation.

Land is not eligible for EQIP if it is currently enrolled in another Farm Bill conservation program (such as the Wetland Reserve Program or the Conservation Reserve Program) for the same practice on the same land. Land is also ineligible if it is used for mitigation purposes, or if it is publicly-owned, unless the publicly-owned land is part on an eligible landowner's operation.

How do I sign up?

Applications may be submitted anytime. EQIP has a continuous sign-up with several batching dates throughout the year to rank and prioritize new or unfunded applications. A signed application can be filed at your local service center any time. A signed application indicates an interest in developing a conservation plan, the first step in the application process.

EQIP is a competitive program that uses an evaluation and ranking process to assess the needs and cost effectiveness of implementing a conservation plan. Applications are grouped for competitive ranking into funding pools with the highest ranked applications in each pool selected for contract development (pools include cropland, pastureland, livestock, and forestland). High priority practices include soil quality, soil erosion, water quality, reduced animal waste production, and reduced energy consumption.

What Practices Receive Funding?

With input from the State Technical Committee, NRCS determines the eligible conservation practices used to improve environmental quality both on and off the farm. The resource concerns addressed through EQIP include soil quality, soil erosion, water quality, water quantity, air quality, and animal and plant species of concern. A list of conservation practices was developed to address these resources concerns in Connecticut. Each practice is meant to work in combination with others as part of the total resource management plan on the farm. Implementing conservation practices on your farm may increases your economic flexibility and long term profitability while strengthening your stewardship of natural resources and the environment. Because practices work in concert with one another, practices may address more than one resource concern.

What are the Payment Rates and Terms?

Individual practice payment rates are calculated to be 75% of the typical cost of labor, materials, and equipment to implement the practice in Connecticut. If the applicant is a beginning farmer, socially disadvantaged or limited resource producer, the rates are 25% higher, up to a maximum of 90% of the typical cost. There is a statutory program payment limitation of $300,000 per applicant during any six-year period.

Projected payments in the approved conservation program contract are based on practice extent and not cost. Payments are made after conservation practices are implemented to the standards agreed to in advance. The conservation practice standard contains information on why and where the practice is applied, and it sets forth the minimum quality criteria that must be met during the application of that practice in order for it to achieve its intended purpose(s).

What is the Contract Period?

Interested applicants can review the program information available on this website and should request a new or updated conservation plan for their farm. An NRCS conservationist will meet with you to evaluate the soil, water, air, plant and animal resources on your property and offer several alternatives to address the resource conditions. The alternatives you decide to use are recorded in your conservation plan which includes a schedule for installation.

A contract offer is developed based on the conservation plan, and is ranked on how well the proposed practices meet national, state, and local environmental objectives, as well as their cost-efficiency. EQIP offers contracts with a maximum term of ten years and a minimum term that ends one year after the implementation of the last scheduled practice.

The contract lists the schedule of installation of planned practices based on the conservation plan. The schedule lists the conservation practice extent (amount), date to be installed, and the pre-determined program payments. The practices are subject to NRCS technical standards adapted for local conditions. Any deviation from the contract schedule is considered a contract violation unless approved in advance.

Additional Program Opportunities Description of Initiative and Activity Plan
EQIP- Conservation Activity Plans All Conservation Activity Plans are developed by a certified Technical Service Provider (TSP) to help agricultural producers and forest owners address specific natural resource concerns on their land.
EQIP - Forestry Financial assistance to adopt new management strategies as part of a Forest Stewardship Plan.
EQIP- Organic Initiative NRCS helps certified organic growers and producers working to achieve organic certification install conservation practices for organic production.
EQIP - Seasonal High Tunnel Initiative NRCS helps producers plan and implement high tunnels, steel-framed, polyethylene-covered structures that extend growing seasons in an environmentally safe manner.
EQIP - Energy Initiative NRCS and producers develop Agricultural Energy Management Plans (AgEMP) or farm energy audits that assess energy consumption on an operation. NRCS then uses audit data to develop energy conservation recommendations.
EQIP - National Water Quality Initiative NRCS will help producers implement conservation and management practices through a systems approach to control and trap nutrient and manure runoff. Qualified producers will receive assistance for installing conservation practices such as cover crops, filter strips and terraces in the Little River Watershed to address documented phosphorus, bacteria, and sediment impairments which may be caused by soil erosion, exposed soil, and lack of riparian buffers and filter strips.

 

Eligible conservation practices are funded in accordance with the FY2014 EQIP Payment Schedule (coming soon). Incentive payments may be made to encourage a farmer to adopt land management practices such as nutrient management, waste utilization, integrated pest management, irrigation water management, and wildlife habitat management.

 

FY2014 Practice Payment Rates

The following provides a listing of all eligible FY2014 EQIP practices and their payment rates. For both the state and national initiatives being offered in Connecticut, there is a limited suite of practices eligible for FY2014. For information about practices for a specific initiative, please select the appropriate link in Special Initiatives for FY2014 below.

Special Initiatives for FY2014

National On-Farm Energy Initiative

The Farm Bill provides authority to use EQIP for payment of practices and conservation activities involving the development of an agricultural energy management plan (AgEMP). The energy initiative is designed to help producers improve energy efficiency on their agriculture operations. This initiative provides funding for individual on-farm energy audits intended to save both money and energy, when fully implemented.

Seasonal High Tunnels

NRCS has established a national high tunnel initiative. Agricultural producers may apply to receive financial and technical assistance to help NRCS test the conservation benefits and effects of high tunnels (aka hoop houses) in practical, real-world situations.

National Organics Initiative

NRCS offers technical and financial assistance for conservation practices related to organic production through EQIP's Organic Initiative. The assistance helps producers plan and implement conservation practices to allow their organic operations to be environmentally sustainable. The EQIP Organic Initiative is available in all 50 states for farmers who are certified organic, transitioning to certified organic, or organic exempt according to USDA’s National Organic Program regulations. Applications are accepted on a continuous basis.

Experimenting with cover crops and crop rotations, installing intensive grazing infrastructure (grazing plans, internal fencing, walkways, water lines), establishing wildlife and pollinator friendly habitat, and installing seasonal high tunnels are examples of conservation practices for which funding may be available under this program. In addition, states offer Conservation Activity Plans that support planning for transitioning to organic.

Contact your local NRCS office to meet with your conservation planning professional and determine which practices could enhance your farming operation.

Organic Initiative Point of Contact Vivian Felten, District Conservationist, (860) 688-7725, Ext. 118.

  • EQIP Organic Support
  • Connecticut EQIP Organic Initiative Eligible Practices (Coming Soon)
  • Connecticut EQIP Organic Payment Schedule General and Organic Payment Schedule Historically Underserved (Coming Soon)
    (In Connecticut, all practices are eligible for EQIP Organic applicants. Practices identified -- in orange on the payment list -- have specific components in the payments identified for organic farming such as organic seed, organic fertilizer, or setbacks required for organic farming.)
  • Organics Initiative Fact Sheet (208 KB)
Forestry Initiative

The goal of this initiative is to expand stewardship opportunities for private forest lands (with existing tree cover or that is suitable for growing trees) through forest land planning. Conservation practices that improve wildlife habitat, forest health and productivity, and water quality are offered through this initiative.

National Water Quality Initiative

NRCS is offering technical and financial assistance to farmers and forest landowners interested in improving water quality and aquatic habitats in priority watersheds with impaired streams.

Long Island Sound Watershed Partnership (coming soon)

Long Island Sound (LIS) is one of 28 designated estuaries of national significance in the U.S. The LIS Watershed begins at the headwaters of the Connecticut River on the Quebec border and encompasses 17,814 square miles in six states (CT, MA, VT, NH, NY, RI) and Quebec. The priorities of this multi-state partnership include improving conservation opportunities for private agricultural and forest landowners; ensuring more sustainable agriculture, creating healthy aquatic environments for shellfish and finfish production; restoring and protecting wildlife habitat; and maintaining and restoring hydrologic and ecological functions within the watershed.

EQIP General Program Description Documents and Application Form
EQIP Conservation Practice, Ranking Documents, and Program Contract
Links to Other Useful Documents for the EQIP Program

Contact

Joyce Purcell
Assistant State Conservationist - Programs
Phone: (860) 871-4028