Environmental Quality Incentives Program
The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) provides financial and technical help for farmers and ranchers to install or implement structural and management practices on eligible agricultural land to conserve their natural resources. The application process for conservation programs is continuous, but funding selections are typically made once a year.
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 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.
Conservation Activity Plan
A Conservation Activity Plan or CAP can be developed for producers to identify conservation practices needed to address a specific natural resource need. Typically, these plans are specific to certain kinds of land use such as:
- transitioning to organic operations
- grazing land
- forest land
A CAP can also address a specific resource need, such nutrient management or a herbicide resistance issue. With a CAP plan, producers can then apply for financial assistance to implement the needed conservation practices.
For a description of CAPs offered in Florida: FY 2015 Florida Conservation Activity Plan Descriptions.
FY 2015 Conservation Activity Plan national website has more information or contact your local NRCS office.
How to 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. 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 2015 Payment Schedules (PDF files): Coming Soon
FY 2014 Payment Schedules (Archived)
Special Initiative web pages:
Organic Producer Initiative
Seasonal High Tunnels
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.