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EQIP 2012 (Archive)

Environmental Quality Incentives Program (Archive Information)

Environmental Quality Incentives Program: Photo of NRCS District Conservationist and farmer General Program Description

EQIP is a voluntary conservation program that helps farmers and owners of agricultural land, including forest landowners, reduce pollution and improve natural resources. EQIP provides technical and financial assistance to help people plan, install and implement structural, vegetative and management conservation practices on agricultural land and forest land. Financial assistance is provided through practice payments based on average costs to implement conservation practices. Payment rates are listed on the annual Practice Payment Rate Schedule. Limited resource Farmers, Beginning Farmers and Ranchers, and Socially Disadvantaged Farmers are eligible for higher payment rates. EQIP contracts can be as short as one year with a one year maintenance period. Most contracts are for work that can be completed within four years. Total financial assistance payments are limited to $300,000 per person or entity over the six-year period from 2009 through 2014, including payments from prior contracts and new payments from the 2008 Farm Bill.

EQIP National Program Purposes

  1. Reductions of nonpoint source pollution, such as nutrients, sediment, pesticides, or excess salinity in impaired watersheds consistent with TMDLs where available as well as the reduction of groundwater contamination and reduction of point sources such as contamination from confined animal feeding operations;
  2. Conservation of ground and surface water resources;
  3. Reduction of emissions, such as particulate matter, nitrogen oxides (NOx), volatile organic compounds, and ozone precursors 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; and
  5. Promotion of at-risk species habitat conservation.

EQIP State and Local Priorities

Maryland’s EQIP program incorporates environmental priorities as identified at the state and local levels into the selection of what specific program options will be offered, and what factors, questions and screening tools will be used in the application ranking process. Ranking worksheets for each program option include evaluation questions that reflect national, state and local priorities.

2012 Conservation Practices Available for EQIP

2012 EQIP Practices (PDF); 27 KB

  • Access Control
  • Agrichemical Handling Facility
  • Alley Cropping
  • Amendments for the Treatment of Ag. Waste
  • Anaerobic Digesters Animal Mortality Facility
  • Animal Trails and Walkways
  • Brush Management
  • Closure of Waste Impoundment
  • Composting Facility
  • Conservation Cover
  • Conservation Crop Rotation
  • Contour Buffer Strips
  • Contour Farming
  • Cover Crop
  • Critical Area Planting
  • Diversion
  • Drainage Water Management
  • Early Successional Habitat Dev/Mgt
  • Farmstead Energy Improvement
  • Feed Management
  • Fence
  • Field Border
  • Filter Strip
  • Firebreak
  • Fish Passage
  • Forage and Biomass Planting
  • Forage Harvest Management
  • Forest Stand Improvement
  • Grade Stabilization Structure
  • Grassed Waterway
  • Heavy Use Area Protection
  • Hedgerow Planting
  • Herbaceous Weed Control
  • Irrigation Storage Reservoir
  • Irrigation System, Microirrigation
  • Irrigation System, Sprinkler
  • Irrigation Tail Water Recovery
  • Irrigation Water Conveyance
  • Irrigation Water Management
  • Lined Waterway or Outlet
  • Manure Transfer
  • Mulching
  • Nutrient Management
  • Pest Management
  • Pipeline
  • Pond
  • Pumping Plant
  • Residue Management, Mulch Till
  • Residue Management, No-till
  • Restoration and Mgt of Rare and Declining Habitats
  • Riparian Forest Buffer
  • Riparian Herbaceous Cover
  • Roof and Covers Roof
  • Runoff Structure
  • Seasonal High Tunnel
  • Sediment Basin
  • Shallow Water Development and Management
  • Solid/Liquid Separation Facility
  • Spring Development
  • Stream Crossing
  • Stream Habitat Improvement and Management
  • Streambank and Shoreline Protection
  • Stripcropping
  • Structure for Water Control
  • Subsurface Drainage
  • Terrace
  • Tree/Shrub Establishment
  • Underground Outlet
  • Upland Wildlife Habitat Management
  • Vegetative Treatment Strip
  • Waste Storage Facility
  • Waste Treatment Lagoon
  • Waste Utilization
  • Water & Sediment Control Basin (WASCOB)
  • Water Well
  • Watering Facility
  • Wetland Creation
  • Wetland Restoration
  • Windbreak Shelterbelt Establishment

Maryland EQIP Program Options



Agricultural Water Quality Enhancement Program (AWEP)

This is a special option that allows eligible entities to propose special projects with producers. Applications are submitted following current annual criteria as provided in a Request for Proposals.

Animal Feeding Operations/Livestock & Poultry Operations

Provides funds to help producers implement practices to reduce environmental concerns associated with livestock and poultry operations. Includes manure storage and treatment, barnyard management, erosion and sediment control, nutrient management, feed management.

Chesapeake Bay Watershed Initiative (CBWI)

CBWI provides additional funds for farmers in the Chesapeake Bay watershed to reduce nutrient and sediment related water quality concerns. CBWI payments are countered towards a person’s EQIP payment limits.

Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan (CNMP)

Incentive payments are available for developing and implementing a CNMP. A CNMP is required for a producer to receive funding for an animal waste storage, treatment or handling practice.

Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG)


Conservation Activity Plans , including
Ag Energy Management,
Conservation Plan Supporting Organic Transition,
Drainage Water Management Plan
Forest Management Plan
Integrated Pest Management
Irrigation Water Management Plan
Nutrient Management Plan


Funding for cropland improvements such as waterways and diversions, as well as for core conservation practices, such as nutrient management, pest management, no-till, and cover crops.

Energy Audits


Feed Management

Funding for developing and following a nutrition plan that prevents over-feeding of nitrogen and phosphorus-based nutrients.

Forest Management

Funding for implementing practices in a Forest Stewardship Plan or other approved Forest Management plan.


Funding for establishing or improving grazing systems.

Historically Underserved Producers

EQIP has special funding set-asides specifically for Beginning Farmers and for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers. Farmers in these groups plus those qualifying as Limited Resource Farmers also qualify for higher payment rates.

Organic Farming

for operations that are either Certified Organic or are Transitioning to Organic Production.

Oyster Bed Restoration and Management

Wildlife Habitat

Some counties have designated wildlife habitat as a local resource priority and have set aside EQIP funds for that purpose. In addition, many of the other EQIP program options include wildlife habitat practices as eligible activities that can be funded as part of contract.

EQIP Eligibility Requirements

  • Applicants must be a farmer engaged in livestock or agricultural production on eligible land, or an owner of agricultural land or non-industrial private forest land. Eligible land includes cropland, rangeland, pasture, private non-industrial forestland, and other farm lands, as determined by the Secretary of Agriculture.
  • Applicants must comply with USDA’s Highly Erodible Land (HEL)/Wetland Conservation provisions. For HEL, erosion must be reduced to minimum acceptable levels by the first year of the contract. Participants also must comply with Adjusted Gross Income provisions (the three-year AGI cannot exceed $1 million, with some exceptions if at least 2/3 of the income is from agricultural production).
  • Priority is given to applicants who have a current conservation plan that addresses soil erosion and, if needed, nutrient management. The conservation plan should describe the practices that will be included on the contract and the schedule for implementing the practices.
  • Preference is given to applicants who can complete work within 1-3 years.
  • EQIP participants receiving funds for animal waste storage, handling, or treatment practices are required to develop and implement a Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan
  • Participants agree to maintain conservation practices implemented with EQIP financial assistance for the practice life span, which may exceed the length of the contract.
  • Conservation Practices must meet or exceed Maryland NRCS standards and specifications.

How to Apply for EQIP

EQIP Applications are accepted by NRCS on a continuous basis throughout the year with periodic pooling dates to evaluate, rank, prioritize and select applicants. Monthly cycles will normally be used.

Evaluation and Ranking

EQIP is a competitive program and uses an evaluation and ranking process to assess needs and cost effectiveness. Ranking occurs after applications are first put through a screening tool and are determined to have at least minimal environmental benefits and meet EQIP program purposes. The review of applications for Fiscal Year 2012 contract requests will begin with applications received by the end of September 2011 and will continue as long as funds are available. Because of the large demand for EQIP assistance, funds are sometimes expended after a few ranking cycles.

Forms and Ranking Tools

The following documents require Adobe Acrobat or Microsoft Excel.

EQIP Practice Payment Schedule (XLS; 113 KB)
Beginning Farmer (PDF; 53KB)
Certified Organic (PDF; 47 KB)
Cropland - Central (PDF; 53 KB)
Cropland - Eastern Shore (PDF; 53 KB)
Cropland - Northern Tier (PDF; 54 KB)
Forest Land (PDF; 28 KB)
Grazing Land - Central (PDF; 55 KB)
Grazing Land - Eastern Shore (PDF; 55 KB)
Grazing Land - Northern Tier (PDF; 55 KB)
Irrigated Cropland (PDF; 51 KB)
Livestock - Central (PDF: 53 KB)
Livestock - Eastern Shore (PDF; 55 KB)
Livestock - Northern Tier (PDF; 54 KB)
On Farm Energy (PDF; 35 KB)
Organic Transition (PDF; 47 KB)
Seasonal High Tunnels (PDF; 30 KB)
Socially Disadvantaged (PDF; 55 KB)
Wildlife Land (PDF; 49 KB)

Maryland Conservation Practice Standards - practices are found in Section IV of the Electronic Field Office Technical Guide (eFOTG)


Contracts will be awarded to producers with the highest rankings until funds are exhausted. Upon request by the applicant, applications that are not funded in the current fiscal year funding cycle can be retained for consideration in the next federal fiscal year (begins October1).

Links to Other Useful Documents for the EQIP Program

For Archival Purposes Only



Mikel Williams
Farm Bill Specialist
Phone: (443) 482-2923

Eric Hines
Assistant State Conservationist - Programs (acting)
Phone: 443.482.2913

or your local service center