Environmental Quality Incentives Program
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, agricultural producers receive financial and technical assistance to implement structural and management conservation practices that optimize environmental benefits on working agricultural land.
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. The following document describes how to apply for Farm Bill programs or visit the following website: Get started with NRCS national page
To learn how to get started with NRCS, visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/getstarted
To apply for EQIP, contact your local service center.
EQIP Program in South Dakota
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.
- 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.
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.
South Dakota 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. http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/national/people/outreach/slbfr/
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:
- 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
- Conservation of ground and surface water resources
- 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
- Reduction in soil erosion and sedimentation from unacceptable levels on agricultural land
- Promotion of at-risk species habitat conservation including development and improvement of wildlife habitat
- 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
- Biological carbon storage and sequestration
In addition, South Dakota has identified the following priorities:
Soil Quality Degradation due to organic matter depletion and concentration of salts
Surface Water Quality Degradation due to excessive sediment, nutrients, and pathogens
Degraded Plant Condition due to undesirable plant productivity, health, and composition
Inadequate Habitat for Wildlife due to inadequate cover and shelter
Excess/Insufficient Water due to poor infiltration, runoff, flooding, and ponding
Livestock Production Limitation due to inadequate water
Decision Making Process for EQIP
Input from Outside Groups, Agencies, and Citizens: The list of eligible practices in [State], payment rates and limits, eligible resource concerns, and state scoring criteria are developed based on input and recommendations from the State Technical Committee (STC). The STC is made up of representatives from various agribusinesses, producer groups, conservation organizations, and federal, state, and tribal government agency representatives.
The Local Work Group process and scoring criteria, are based on input from the counties in the Local Work Groups (LWG).
The priorities set at the state and county level are those that the STC and LWG respectively determined were of the greatest need and would have the greatest positive environmental impact. The scoring process at both the state and local level was developed in order to select those projects that would provide the greatest environmental benefit, and therefore provide the greatest public good.
Fiscal Year 2015 EQIP Deadlines
Applications submitted by November 21, 2014 will be evaluated to be considered for funding in fiscal year 2015. Applications received after that date will be accepted and evaluated for future rounds of funding.
To apply for EQIP, your local service center 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.
Jennifer Wurtz, Resource Conservationist, 605-352-1225
Jeff VanderWilt, Assistant State Conservationist for Programs, 605-352-1226