Environmental Quality Incentives Program

EQIP logo and picture

EQIP provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers that address natural resource concerns and improve water and air quality, conserve ground and surface water, reduce soil erosion and sedimentation or improve or create wildlife habitat.

Why Participate?

You can receive technical assistance to create a conservation plan to address natural resource concerns on your land and financial assistance to implement conservation practices. Payments are made to participants after the conservation practices and activities identified in an EQIP plan of operations are implemented. Contracts can last up to 10 years.

Who Can Participate?

Agricultural producers and owners of non-industrial private forestland and tribes are eligible to apply for EQIP. Cropland, rangeland, pastureland, non-industrial private forestland and other farm or ranch lands are eligible.

Socially disadvantaged, beginning and limited resource farmers, Indian tribes and veterans qualify for increased payment rates and may receive advance payments of up to 50 percent to purchase materials and services needed to implement conservation practices included in their EQIP contract.

Applicants must:  

  • Control or own eligible land
  • Comply with adjusted gross income limitation (AGI)  provisions
  • Be in compliance with the highly erodible land and wetland conservation requirements
  • Develop an NRCS EQIP plan of operations

How Do I Apply?

Visit your local USDA service center to apply or see 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.

For 2015 financial assistance, the cutoff date for general EQIP applications was Nov. 21, 2014. The deadline to apply for special initiatives is March 20. Special initiatives include longleaf pine, seasonal high tunnels, pollinators, national water quality, organic, on-farm energy and working lands for wildlife.

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.

In Florida, the following priorities guide EQIP application selection:

  1. Water Quality Degradation
  2. Insufficient Water (Surface and Ground Water Quantities)
  3. Soil Health (Erosion & Quality)
  4. Plant and Animal Health (Degraded Plant Condition & Livestock Production Limitation)
  5. Inadequate Habitat for Fish and Wildlife

The national EQIP website has a list of national priorities.

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.

EIrrigated Corn FieldQIP offers contracts with a minimum term that ends one year after the implementation of the last scheduled practices and a maximum term of 10 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 a plan of operations developed in conjunction with the producer that identifies conservation 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 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.

More Information

FY 2015 Payment Schedules (PDF files)

Initiative web pages

Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG)

EQIP Fact Sheet (PDF, 1.6MB)

EQIP Fact Sheet - Spanish version (PDF, 1.6MB)

The NRCS national EQIP website has more information.

FY 2014 Payment Schedules (Archived)

Program Contacts