The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers to address natural resource concerns and deliver environmental benefits such as improved water and air quality, conserved ground and surface water, reduced soil erosion and sedimentation or improved or created wildlife habitat.
2014 Farm Bill: 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.
Eligible program participants receive financial and technical assistance to implement conservation practices, or activities like conservation planning, that address natural resource concerns on their land. Payments are made to participants after conservation practices and activities identified in an EQIP plan of operations are implemented. Contracts can last up to ten years in duration.
Agricultural producers and owners of non-industrial private forestland and Tribes are eligible to apply for EQIP. Eligible land includes cropland, rangeland, pastureland, non-industrial private forestland and other farm or ranch lands.
Socially disadvantaged, beginning and limited resource farmers, Indian tribes and veterans are eligible for an increased payment rate and may receive advance payment of up to 50 percent to purchase materials and services needed to implement conservation practices included in their EQIP contract.
- 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
Additional restrictions and program requirements may apply.
How to Apply
Visit your local USDA Service Center to apply, or visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/getstarted.
NRCS will help eligible producers develop an EQIP plan of operations, which will become the basis of the EQIP contract.
EQIP applications will be ranked based on a number of factors, including the environmental benefits and cost effectiveness of the proposal.
The EQIP application is based on assistance and decisions reached with producers during the conservation planning process. EQIP applications are prioritized for funding using state, national and locally developed ranking criteria that consider cost-effectiveness, resources to be treated, meeting national EQIP priorities, compliance with federal, state or tribal environmental regulations or reducing the need for future regulations and, to a degree, the location of the contract. Funded EQIP applications result in a contract which lists the practices to be applied along with an application schedule and federal funds committed. Payment rate caps will be used to insure that contract payments are not higher than program rules allow. Conservation practices applied with EQIP funds are to be maintained for the service life of the practice, which may be longer than the term of the EQIP contract. The minimum contract length is one year after the implementation of the last scheduled practice. All contracts have a maximum contract length of ten years. Implemented practices are subject to NRCS technical standards. Farmers may elect to use NRCS or a Technical Service Provider for EQIP technical assistance.
Applications for EQIP are accepted on a continuous basis. However, each locality has a cutoff date for batching and ranking applications as funding allows, the first of which is Oct. 17, 2014.
EQIP Application Materials
EQIP Initiatives in Iowa
EQIP Projects in Iowa
EQIP Wildlife Habitat Information
- 2015 Wildlife Habitat Practice List (PDF)
- 2014 Wildlife Rankings
- 2015 Iowa EQIP Wildlife Practice Descriptions | Payment Rates (See Iowa EQIP Practice Descriptions and Payment Rates Above)
- 2015 Wildlife Habitat Priority Maps
- Grassland Priority Areas
- Upland Habitat Priority Areas of I-80
- Upland Habitat Priority Areas South of I-80
- Forestland Resource Priority Areas
- Riverine Priority Areas
- Shelterbelt Priority Areas
Iowa EQIP Popular Conservation Practices:
Iowa EQIP Results
EQIP Process and Deadlines
Iowa NRCS, through the state technical committee, requested and received input on resource concerns, practices needed to treat the resource concerns, financial incentives and EQIP implementation. The State Technical Committee is a broad-based group of public and private agencies interested in natural resources protection, including agricultural commodity and agribusiness interests, federal, state and local agencies and environmental groups. The committee meets periodically to advise USDA-NRCS on the implementation of conservation programs in Iowa. Local work groups function similarly in each level of the Soil and Water Conservation District.
EQIP funding may be approved for the following resource concerns:
- Surface and subsurface water quality related to the presence of excessive nutrients and organics related to livestock production by animal feeding operations on open feedlots
- Plant condition and management to protect/improve pastureland, soil erosion control.
- Wildlife management to protect at risk wildlife species.
The majority of EQIP funds will be distributed through Iowa's 100 NRCS field offices. These funds are distributed based on the:
- percent of agricultural land in the county with impaired waters due to agricultural concerns (as identified by Section 303(d) of Clean Water Act)
- number of livestock in the county
- soil types with a Land Capability Class IIe and greater
- acres needing wildlife habitat conservation systems
Statewide guidance to local work groups includes:
- EQIP financial assistance for eligible practices is based on a payment schedule. For a list of practice descriptions and payment rates, go to: FY2015 EQIP Practice Descriptions and Payment Rates. For the list of eligible practices in individual counties, go to: Link to County EQIP Information.
- Property line fences which the applicant hs control of may be eligible for EQIP financial assistance, if needed as part of a grazing system.
- Existing livestock facilities with an untreated resource concern are eligible for financial assistance for treatment of livestock waste. (New livestock facilities are not eligible.)
- If a waste storage facility maximum payment is established at the local level, it cannot be less than $50,000.
- Contracts that include treatment of livestock waste require a Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan (CNMP) be developed prior to installation of the first practice. Contracts that include forestry practices require a Forest Management Plan prior to installation of the first practice. Contracts that include practices to convert to organic farming require an Organic Management Plan prior to installation of the first practice. All practices (contracted or not contracted) included in the management plans must be fully applied.
- Payments for land management practices are to be limited to the minimum amount necessary to encourage the producer to apply the practice and are limited to no more than 3 years of payments.
- Limited Resource Producers, Beginning Farmers, Tribal Farmers and Socially Disadvantaged Producers are eligible for a higher payment rate.
Each district conservationist working with a local work group has established local resource concerns, practices, and an application ranking process to prioritize applications for funding. Applications for EQIP are accepted on a continuous basis. However, each locality has a cutoff date for ranking applications, the first of which is Oct. 17, 2014. Subsequent statewide cutoff dates to rank additional new applications may be established. NRCS may establish local, minimum ranking cutoff levels for funding selection. Use the "Link to County EQIP Information" for details on the county EQIP information.
Contact your local NRCS Field Office for additional information.
For more information, visit your local USDA Service Center
Sign up for Farm Bill email updates
2008 Farm Bill Archived Information
Iowa NRCS EQIP Contact:
Paul Goldsmith, 515-284-4353