Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)
South Carolina FY 2015 EQIP Sign-Up and Application Information
Prioritized funding deadline is December 19, 2014.
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.
SC NRCS, through the state technical committee and local working groups, 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.
Applications for EQIP are accepted on a continuous basis. however, states have a cutoff date for batching and ranking applications as funding allows. South Carolina's cutoff date for applications is December 19, 2014.
USDA Announces October 17 EQIP Signup
2015 EQIP Application Materials
Link to County EQIP application
South Carolina - 2015 State EQIP Ranking Criteria
National - 2015 EQIP Ranking Criteria
2015 South Carolina EQIP Payment Schedule (PDF)
2015 Historically Underserved Ranking
National NRCS EQIP Web Page
EQIP Initiatives in South Carolina
1. On-Farm Energy Initiative
2. Organic Initiative
3. National Water Quality Initiative
4. Seasonal High Tunnel Initiative
5. Longleaf Pine Initiative
EQIP Wildlife Habitat Information
2015 Wildlife Habitat Practice List
EQIP Overview and Application Tools
How EQIP Works in South Carolina
Links to Other Useful Documents for the EQIP Program