Some conservation practices have cost caps, for instance:
Addressing resource concerns identified in a Forest Management Plan, such as Access Road, will be capped. Capped amounts will be applied to all Forestry applications, and any access road required to address resource concerns beyond the financial cap may be contracted under 655.
Another practice with a cost cap is Seasonal High Tunnel. Capped amounts are to be applied to all Seasonal High Tunnel applications.
Seasonal high tunnels must be Gothic Style.
What's New with EQIP - National?
EQIP Interim Final Rule with Request for Comment on Regulations.gov
The former Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program was folded into EQIP
Advance payment opportunities now exist for veteran agricultural producers
Advance payments for socially disadvantaged, beginning and limited resource farmers, Indian tribes and veterans were raised from 30 percent to 50 percent
Payment limitations are set at $450,000 with no ability to waive
NRCS accepts applications on a continuing basis.
The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) is reauthorized by the 2014 Farm Bill to promote agricultural production, forest management, and environmental quality as compatible national goals and to optimize environmental benefits on eligible land with farmers and non-industrial private forest landowners on a voluntary basis. Through EQIP, agricultural producers receive financial and technical assistance to implement structural and management conservation practices that optimize environmental benefits on working agricultural land.
Applications are currently being accepted for Connecticut's two state RCPP proposals.
Improving Soil Health and Water Quality in the Thames River Watershed in partnership with The Last Green Valley, Inc. (link forthcoming)
National and State Priorities
The following national priorities, consistent with statutory resources concerns that include soil, water, wildlife, air quality, and related natural resource concerns, may be used in EQIP implementation:
Reductions of non-point source pollution such as nutrients, sediment, pesticides, or excess salinity in impaired watersheds consistent with total maximum daily loads (TMDL) where available; the reduction of surface and groundwater contamination; and the reduction of contamination from agricultural sources such as animal feeding operations
Conservation of ground and surface water resources
Reduction of emissions such as particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds, and ozone precursors and depleters that contribute to air quality impairment violations of National Ambient Air Quality Standards
Reduction in soil erosion and sedimentation from unacceptable levels on agricultural land
Promotion of at-risk species habitat conservation including development and improvement of wildlife habitat
Energy conservation to help save fuel, improve efficiency of water use, maintain production, and protect soil and water resources by more efficiently using fertilizers and pesticides
Biological carbon storage and sequestration
In addition, Connecticut has identified the following priorities:
Livestock Production Limitations
EQIP applications are accepted on a continuous basis, however, NRCS establishes application "cut-off" or submission deadline dates for evaluation, ranking and approval of eligible applications. EQIP is open to all eligible agricultural producers and submitted applications may be considered or evaluated in multiple funding pool opportunities. The following document describes how to apply for Farm Bill programs or visit the following website: Get started with NRCS national page
EQIP is open to all eligible agricultural producers. To be considered for funding, all applications must meet the criteria for both producer eligibility and land eligibility.
be considered an agricultural producer
have control of the land for the life of the contract
be in compliance with federal highly erodible land and wetland conservation provisions
be within appropriate payment limitation requirements and adjusted gross income requirements
The land being offered into the program must be agricultural land, non-industrial private forest land, or other land on which agricultural products, livestock, or forest-related products are produced.
Additional restrictions and program requirements may apply.
Applicants are responsible for completing and filing all application and eligibility paperwork as required. If funded, participants are required to sign a contract and agree to implement the planned conservation practices to NRCS standards and specifications as scheduled.
Decision Making Process for EQIP
Input from outside groups, agencies, and citizens: The list of eligible practices in Connecticut, payment rates and limits, eligible resource concerns, and state scoring criteria are developed based on input and recommendations from the State Technical Committee (STC). The STC is made up of representatives from various agri-businesses, producer groups, conservation organizations, and federal, state, and tribal government agency representatives.
Starting a practice prior to written contract approval will result in the ineligibility of the practice for EQIP assistance, unless a waiver has been approved.
Connecticut EQIP Sub-Accounts and Ranking Documents
Beginning Farmer and Rancher
This sub-account is for applicants applying as Beginning Farmers. These are landowners who have been engaged in farming for no more than 10 years. For forestry practices, the applicant must have owned the land for no more than 10 years. Eligible conservation practices for this sub-account include all practices offered for EQIP in 2015. Applicants in this sub-account are eligible for higher practice payment rates.
This sub-account is for applicants enrolling to implement forest management practices based on a certified forest management or stewardship plan. NRCS aims to promote sustainable forest management and harvesting techniques. Participants may choose a registered NRCS Technical Service Provider of their choice to write the plan. Timber Stand Improvement, Forest Trails and Landings, and Brush Management are some of the practices that can be scheduled if recommended in a Forest Management Plan.
This sub-account is for applicants who wish to implement a Grazing Management Plan, or whose operations are predominantly used for livestock production. This would include dairy farms and operations that raise beef, sheep, goats, alpacas, or other livestock. Conservation practices that can be included in these conservation plans include fencing for rotational grazing, watering facilities, pasture and hayland planting, heavy use areas, and brush management.
Animal Feeding Operation (AFO) and Confined Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO)
AFO's are agricultural enterprises where animals are kept and raised in confined situations where feed, manure and urine, dead animals, and production operations all occur on a small land area. A CAFO is an AFO with more than 1,000 animal units (an animal is defined as an animal equivalent of 1,000 lbs. live weight) confined on site for more than 45 days during the year. Existing AFO/CAFO's can apply for EQIP financial assistance for the storage, treatment, and utilization of animal waste. This is a statewide process to address the water quality impacts of these operations to the rivers and streams of the state, and control soil erosion. Applicants should have a Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan in order to apply for practices recommended in the plan such as Heavy Use Area Protection, Animal Mortality Facility, Waste Storage Facility, Critical Area Planting, Grassed Waterway, etc.
This sub-account is for landowners whose operations are predominantly crop-production. Vegetable, nursery, orchard, greenhouse, and other specialty crop production may be eligible under this sub-account. Conservation practices that may be included in these conservation plans can include erosion control practices, seasonal high tunnels, conservation irrigation, and soil health practices. A producer should have a Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan if interested in applying for nutrient management practices.
This sub-account is for applicants who wish to implement practices which benefit wildlife on their farm or forest. Applicants may apply for practices which benefit wildlife either directly or indirectly. Some of the practices include Riparian Buffer, Conservation Cover, and Forested or Herbaceous Structures for Wildlife.
A completed and certified CAP may be required before a participant can apply for certain practices. For example, a participant must have a certified Forest Management Plan in order to apply to NRCS for forest management practices.
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. Qualified producers may apply for financial assistance to install conservation practices in the designated watersheds 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. Following are the designated watersheds:
Working Lands for Wildlife Initiative - New England Cottontail
NRCS, in partnership with other state and federal agencies, is working to restore habitat for the New England Cottontail (NEC) rabbit within the species' historic range. The NEC is considered an at-risk species that has undergone major population decline due to loss of habitat. NRCS can provide financial assistance to eligible applicants for practices which restore or create habitat within the NEC's historic range. Some practices aimed at restoring habitat include Early Successional Habitat Development, Structures for Wildlife, and Tree and Shrub Establishment. The focus areas for the initiative are located on the eastern and western sides of the state including towns in Litchfield, Fairfield, New London, and Windham Counties. Participants should have a Forest Management Plan CAP if the land in application is forestland.
Working Lands for Wildlife Initiative - Bog Turtle
The Bog Turtle is currently listed as Threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The Bog Turtle depends on a habitat composed of open, sunny wetlands and dry, grassy areas. Under this initiative, NRCS can provide financial assistance to private landowners in Litchfield and Fairfield Counties who have wetlands and wish to conserve or restore bog turtle habitat. Some of the eligible core practices include Restoration and Management of Declining Habitats, Early Successional Habitat Development, and Upland Wildlife Habitat Management.
The Energy Initiative is designed to help producers improve energy efficiency on their agricultural operations. This initiative provides funding for individual on-farm energy audits, and results which will allow participants to save both money and energy when fully implemented.
This sub-account is for applicants who are certified organic operations. Applicants must be certified by an accredited USDA certifying agent. Conservation practices for these conservation plans will focus on practices that are used on organic farms and other practices that address resource concerns on their operation.
This sub-account is for applicants who are transitioning to organic production. Applicants shall self-certify that they agree to develop and work toward implementing an Organic System Plan. Conservation practices for these conservation plans will focus on practices that are used on organic farms and other practices that address resource concerns on their operation.
Socially Disadvantaged, Beginning, and Limited Resource Farmers/Ranchers, Military Veteran Farmers
The 2014 Farm Bill continues to address the unique circumstances and concerns of socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers, as well as beginning and limited resource farmers and ranchers and Veteran Farmers. It provides for voluntary participation, offers incentives, and focuses on equity in accessing U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) programs and services. Enhancements include increased payment rates and advance payments of up to 50 percent to purchase materials and services needed to implement conservation practices included in their EQIP contract.
Connecticut is committed to reaching out to Historically Underserved individuals and groups. Historically Underserved participants may also receive higher payment rates in addition to being considered in high priority funding pools. See the Small & Limited and Beginning Farmers and Ranchers page for the NRCS definition of the Historically Underserved.