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EQIP

EQIP General Program Description

- The cut-off date for the second selection of Fiscal Year 2015 applications is Friday, Feb. 20, 2015.

The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) is a voluntary conservation program administered by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. It supports production agriculture and environmental quality as compatible goals. Through EQIP, farmers, ranchers, private forest land owners and Federally-recognized American Indian tribes may receive financial and technical assistance to implement structural and land management conservation practices on eligible agricultural land.

Eligibility

Individuals engaged in livestock, crop or forest production are eligible to apply. Eligible land includes cropland, rangeland, pasture, and private non-industrial forestland.

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
  • Starting/implementing a conservation practice prior to written contract approval will result in the ineligibility of that practice for EQIP assistance

    Additional restrictions and program requirements may apply. 

Program 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

State priorities are developed annually from input from local workgroups based on county resource assessments and individual plans to address those local needs. A State Technical Committee comprised of representation from these local work groups, Tribal groups, commodity groups, and conservation partners advise NRCS on the implementation of EQIP.

EQIP activities are carried out according to a site specific conservation plan developed in conjunction with the producer. All conservation practices are installed according to NRCS technical standards. Producers may elect to use an approved technical service provider for technical assistance.

Applying for EQIP

EQIP applications are accepted on a continuous basis, however, NRCS establishes application "cut-off" or submission deadline dates for evaluation, ranking and approval of eligible applications. EQIP is open to all eligible agricultural producers and submitted applications may be considered or evaluated in multiple funding pool opportunities.

Get Started with NRCS by learning the steps to receive conservation assistance.

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 increased payment rates and advance payments of up to 50 percent to purchase materials and services needed to implement conservation practices included in their EQIP contract.

Michigan is committed to reaching out to Historically Underserved individuals and groups. Historically Underserved participants may also receive higher payment rates in addition to being considered in high priority funding pools. See the Small & Limited and Beginning Farmers and Ranchers page for the NRCS definition of the Historically Underserved.

NRCS National Outreach and Advocacy Web page

EQIP Documents
Interim Final Rule for EQIP
Environmental Quality Incentives Program "At a glance"

Forms
Conservation Program Application (NRCS-CPA-1200)

Additional Michigan EQIP Information

Fiscal Year 2015 EQIP Sign-Up Web Page

EQIP Initiatives in Michigan Web Page
Including: Honey Bee Initative, National Water Quality Initiative, On-Farm Energy Initiative, Organic Initiative

Conservation Activity Plan Web Page
A Conservation Activity Plan (CAP) identifies conservation practices to address specific natural resource needs.  Typically, these plans are specific to land uses, such as grazing land or forestland.  Other types of CAPs focus on addressing a specific resource need, such as nutrient management or integrated pest management.  A producer can apply for financial assistance to help pay for a conservation professional to develop a CAP. After a CAP is completed the producer can apply for financial assistance to implement the conservation practices recommended in the CAP.  Applications for CAP funding in Michigan must be submitted by Friday, Feb. 20, 2015, to be included in the second selection for Fiscal Year 2015 funds.

Contact

To apply for EQIP, contact your local USDA Service Center. 
Michigan Field Office Directory

For general questions about EQIP contact the Michigan NRCS EQIP Coordinator.

Becky Otto, EQIP Coordinator
Phone:  (517) 324-5257
E-mail: becky.otto@mi.usda.gov