Environmental Quality Incentives Program
The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) was reauthorized in the 2014 Farm Bill to provide a voluntary conservation program for farmers and ranchers that promotes agricultural production and environmental quality as compatible national goals. EQIP offers financial and technical help to assist eligible participants install or implement structural and management practices on eligible agricultural land.
What's New in EQIP?
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
EQIP offers contracts with a minimum term that ends one year after the implementation of the last scheduled practices and a maximum term of ten years. These contracts provide incentive payments and cost-shares to implement conservation practices. Persons who are engaged in livestock or agricultural production on eligible land may participate in the EQIP program. EQIP activities are carried out according to an environmental quality incentives program plan of operations developed in conjunction with the producer that identifies the appropriate conservation practice or practices to address the resource concerns. The practices are subject to NRCS technical standards adapted for local conditions. The local conservation district approves the plan.
EQIP will, if approved, pay cost-share on certain approved conservation practices. Incentive payments may be provided for up to three years to encourage producers to carry out management practices they may not otherwise use without the incentive. Historically underserved producers and ranchers may be eligible for higher cost-share amounts. Farmers and ranchers may elect to use a certified third-party provider for technical assistance.
How to Apply
Visit your local USDA Service Center to apply or visit Getting Started with NRCS.
NRCS will help eligible producers develop an EQIP plan of operations, which will become the basis of the EQIP contract.
NRCS establishes a cutoff date annually for applications to be evaluated and ranked for current year funding. All applications received after the cutoff date will be held for evaluation for funding the following fiscal year. EQIP applications will be ranked based on a number of factors, including the environmental benefits and cost effectiveness of the proposal.
FY 2014 Payment Schedules (PDF files):
Special Initiative web pages:
Organic Producer Initiative
Seasonal High Tunnels
Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) web site with link to project search
EQIP Fact Sheet (PDF, 1.6MB)
EQIP Fact Sheet - Spanish version (PDF, 1.6MB)
The NRCS National EQIP Website has more information.