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Environmental Quality Incentives Program

Scenic CT farm with EQIP logo

What's New in EQIP?

EQIP Interim Final Rule with Request for Comment on Regulations.gov

http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=NRCS-2014-0007-0001

  • 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

Introduction

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.

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:

  1. 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
  2. Conservation of ground and surface water resources
  3. 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
  4. Reduction in soil erosion and sedimentation from unacceptable levels on agricultural land
  5. Promotion of at-risk species habitat conservation including development and improvement of wildlife habitat
  6. 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
  7. Biological carbon storage and sequestration

In addition, Connecticut has identified the following priorities:

  1. Water Quality
  2. Soil Health
  3. Soil Erosion
  4. Forestry
  5. Livestock Production Limitations

Accepting Applications

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

Learn how to get started with NRCS.

To apply for EQIP, contact your local service center.

Forms Needed to Sign Up

The following documents require Adobe Acrobat
Additional forms you may need:

Eligibility

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.

Applicants must:  

  • 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. 

Participant Responsibilities

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.

Fiscal Year 2015 EQIP Deadlines

Applications submitted by December 19, 2014, will be evaluated to be considered for funding in fiscal year 2015. Applications received after that date will be accepted and evaluated for future rounds of funding.

To apply for EQIP, contact your local service center or visit Get Started with NRCS. Do you farm and want to make improvements to the land you own or lease? NRCS offers technical and financial assistance to help farmers, and forest landowners. Learn how here.

Connecticut EQIP Sub-Accounts and Ranking Documents

Connecticut Sub-Accounts

Descriptions

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.

Ranking Tool

Practices and Payment Rates

Socially Disadvantaged Producer

This sub-account is for applicants who certify as Socially Disadvantaged according to information provided under the National Guidance for Socially Disadvantaged, Beginning, and Limited Resource Farmers/Ranchers, Veteran Farmers. 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.

Ranking Tool

Practices and Payment Rates

Limited Resource Producer This sub-account is for applicants who certify as Limited Resource according to information provided under the National Guidance for Socially Disadvantaged, Beginning, and Limited Resource Farmers/Ranchers, Veteran Farmers. 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.

Ranking Tool

Practices and Payment Rates

Forestry

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.

Ranking Tool

Practices and Payment Rates

Pasture/Hayland

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.

Ranking Tool

Practices and Payment Rates

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.

Ranking Tool

Practices and Payment Rates

Cropland

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.

Ranking Tool

Practices and Payment Rates

Wildlife

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.

Ranking Tool

Practices and Payment Rates

(coming soon)

Conservation Activity Plan (CAP)

This sub-account is for any applicant applying for a Conservation Activity Plan (CAP). CAPs available in Connecticut are for:

  • Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan
  • Nutrient Management Plan
  • Forest Management Plan
  • Feed Management Plan
  • Grazing Management Plan
  • Prescribed Burning Plan
  • Integrated Pest Management Plan
  • On-Farm Energy Management Plan
  • Drainage Water Management Plan
  • Conservation Plan Supporting Organic Transition
  • Fish and Wildlife Habitat Management Plan
  • Pollinator Habitat Enhancement Plan

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.

CAP Ranking Tool

Comprehensive Nutrient Mgmt. Plan CAP Ranking Tool

Nutrient Mgmt. Plan CAP Ranking Tool

Forest Mgmt. Plan CAP Ranking Tool

Feed Mgmt. Plan CAP Ranking Tool

Grazing Mgmt. Plans CAP Ranking Tool

Prescribed Burning Plan CAP Ranking Tool

Integrated Pest Mgmt. Plan CAP Ranking Tool

On-Farm Energy Mgmt Plan CAP Ranking Tool

Drainage Water Mgmt. Plan CAP Ranking Tool

Conservation Plan Supporting Organic Transition CAP Ranking Tool

Fish & Wildlife Habitat Mgmt. Plan CAP Ranking Tool

Pollinator Habitat Enhancement Plan CAP Ranking Tool

CAP Guidance and Descriptions
 

Practices and Payment Rates

National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI)

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:

  • Little River Watershed
  • Scantic River (pending)

More information on the NWQI webpage.

Practices and Payment Rates

(coming soon)

Initiative Sub-Accounts

 

Descriptions

Ranking Documents

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.

Ranking Tool

Practices and Payment Rates

(coming soon)

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.

Ranking Tool

Practices and Payment Rates

(coming soon)

On-Farm Energy

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.

Ranking Tool

Practices and Payment Rates

Certified Organic 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.

Ranking Tool

Practices and Payment Rates

Transitioning to Organic This sub-account is for applicants who are transitioning to organic production. Appliants 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.

Ranking Tool

Practices and Payment Rates

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

More Information

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