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Environmental Quality Incentives Program

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The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) is a voluntary conservation program that helps agricultural producers in a manner that promotes agricultural production and environmental quality as compatible goals. Through EQIP, farmers and ranchers receive financial and technical assistance to implement structural and management conservation practices that optimize environmental benefits on working agricultural land.  EQIP is open to all eligible agricultural producers.

Fiscal Year 2015 EQIP Deadlines

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

Because the signing of the new farm bill occurred in February, Indiana’s previous announcement of the EQIP special initiatives signup deadline (February 21st) and ranking process was delayed.

  • Get Started with NRCS - Do you farm or ranch and want to make improvements to the land that you own or lease? NRCS offers technical and financial assistance to help farmers, ranchers and forest landowners. Learn how here.

What's New in EQIP

  • The former Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP) 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 

Accepting Applications

EQIP applications are accepted through a continuous sign-up process. NRCS encourages customers to apply at any time and periodically announces cutoff dates when applications are ranked for funding. EQIP is open to all eligible ag producers. The following document describes how to apply for Farm Bill programs.

  1. NOTICE TO APPLICANTS: Starting a practice prior to written contract approval will result in the ineligibility of that practice for EQIP assistance unless a waiver has been approved (see 440-CPM, Part 512, Subpart E)

Notice: Starting a practice prior to written contract approval will result in the ineligibility of that practice for EQIP assistance unless a waiver has been approved.

Indiana is committed to reaching out to Historically Underserved individuals and groups. Historically Underserved applications receive higher payment rates in addition to being considered in high priority funding pools. Click on the Small & Limited and Beginning Farmers and Ranchers link for the NRCS definition of the Historically Underserved.

Eligibility

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.

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

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.

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 streamlined delivery of technical and financial assistance; improved programs and services; and flexibility in decision making (with most decisions made at the Tribal, State, or local level)

For definitions of socially disadvantaged, beginning farmer, limited resource farmer and military veteran farmers, please visit: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/national/people/outreach/slbfr

Environmental and Operational Benefits - 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 nonpoint 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 and
  7. Biological carbon storage and sequestration

In addition, Indiana has identified the following priorities:

  • Grazing management: fencing, stockwater systems, range and pasture planting
  • Nutrient management: manure storage structures, planned nutrient applications, soil testing
  • Pest management: crop and pest monitoring activities
  • Erosion control: grade control structures, diversions, water and sediment control basins
  • Wildlife habitat enhancement: stream buffers, upland wildlife habitat establishment

These and the many other measures included in EQIP can help producers accomplish a variety of operational goals, which may include:

  • Improvements to the long-term productivity and sustainability of an agricultural operation;
  • Improved condition of crops and forage for livestock;
  • Reduced costs for fuel, labor, fertilizers and pesticides;
  • Energy efficient systems and field operations; and
  • Compliance with regulatory requirements.

Ranking and Screening Information

All EQIP applications receive a ranking score which is used to prioritize applications for funding based on environmental benefit and cost efficiency.

Indiana NRCS supports the locally led conservation effort in the delivery of conservation programs. The USDA local work group (LWG) serves as the starting point for the development and coordination of USDA programs to provide an integrated approach for addressing local natural resource concerns.

NRCS develops National and State resource priorities along with priorities developed by each county LWG. The LWG priorities will comprise 25 percent of the total points in the ranking score by identifying critical resource priorities within each county. The State Conservationist must grant final approval of county LWG resource priorities. Contact your local Service Center to find out when and where the LWG meeting is held.

Screening Criteria

Ranking Criteria

Indiana EQIP Payment Rates and Eligible Practices

2015 General EQIP Practice Details (DOC; 214 KB)
 

Indiana EQIP Fact Sheets 

Energy Conservation and Soil Quality Improvement System (DOC; 476 KB)
2008 Farm Bill - EQIP and Organic Agriculture (PDF; 167 KB)
Healthy Forests - EQIP (PDF; 366 KB)
2012 USDA Organic Resource Guide (PDF; 1.8 MB)
National NRCS Organic Farming Information
National USDA Organic Agriculture Information
National Agricultural Marketing Service Organic Information

EQIP TSP Processes

TSP TA Request Spreadsheet (DOC; 36 KB)
Participant TSP Documentation (DOC; 35 KB)
TSP CAP Request (DOC; 34 KB)

EQIP Initiatives

Contact Information

To apply for EQIP, contact your local service center.

If you have questions about EQIP, please contact Adam Heichelbech.