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Environmental Quality Incentives Program

Environmental Quality Incentives Program

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FY 2016 Application Deadline

The application deadline for FY 2016 funding consideration is January 15, 2016.

EQIP applications are accepted at any time of the year.  Applications received by the application deadline are evaluated for funding if the applicants have completed the eligibility requirements.  

Program Overview

The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) is a voluntary program authorized under the Agricultural Act of 2014 (2014 Farm Bill) that helps producers install measures to protect soil, water, plant, wildlife, and other natural resources while ensuring sustainable production on their farms, ranches and working forest lands.  In addition, a purpose of EQIP is to help producers meet Federal, State, Tribal and local environmental regulations.  The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) administers EQIP funding and provides participants with professional conservation expertise. 

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.   A single contract may not exceed $450,000 and the total amount of payments to a person or legal entity may not exceed an aggregate of $450,000, directly or indirectly, for all contracts, enrolled in EQIP beginning February 7, 2014, through fiscal year 2018.  Payments received for technical assistance are excluded from this limitation.

The State Conservationist, with advice from the State Technical Committee and local working groups, allocates funds to various EQIP fund accounts and develops a ranking process to addresses National, State and Local priority natural resource concerns in a cost-effective manner. 

National Priorities (7 CFR Part 1466.4)

The following are national priorities to be achieved with EQIP funding:

  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; and
  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.

State Priorities

The New Mexico State Conservationist establishes state priority natural resource concerns using recommendations of the State Technical Committee and tribal Conservation advisory councils.  The resource concerns that are of top priority for New Mexico will be posted soon.

Technical Assistance

EQIP contracts are required to be supported by an NRCS approved Conservation Plan/Schedule of Operations. NRCS provides technical assistance to identify resource concerns on the land and develop a conservation plan with producers.  Producers may also apply for financial assistance to hire Technical Service Providers (TSP) to develop specialty plans called Conservation Activity Plans (CAP) to address certain land use activities or specific resource needs.

The Conservation Plan/Schedule of Operations identifies the conservation practices or activities to be implemented, the timing of implementation, location, natural resource concerns to be addressed, conservation benefits to be achieved, and operation and maintenance required for the life of the practice or activity.  NRCS also provides technical assistance to ensure that implementation of practices specified on the EQIP Conservation Plan/Schedule of Operations is done according to NRCS standards and specifications.

Through EQIP, NRCS may also provide or cover the cost of professional technical services to design the selected practices. This includes: on-site assessments, site-specific practice and management plans, and engineering designs. Applicants who want to consider hiring a certified technical service provider (TSP) to perform this work can find them at the NRCS TechReg website

Technical Service Providers must not start work until funding has been approved by NRCS.

Financial Assistance

Those who submit an application and are accepted into EQIP may receive payments to offset costs associated with materials and installation of conservation Practices. Practices funded through EQIP may include such measures as: manure management practices, pest management treatments, irrigation systems improvements, forest stewardship plans and management practices, erosion control and buffers, range and pasture planting, brush management, fencing, watering facilities, and a wide range of other practices.  

NRCS will select the conservation practice scenario that bests addresses the resource concern at the least-cost to the government.  The least-cost scenario selected in an EQIP contract does not limit the choice of treatment options of the participant. However, the treatment option implemented must meet NRCS standards and specifications, address the identified resource concern, and be approved by an individual with NRCS job approval authority.  

For a complete list of practice scenarios:  TBD

The practices funded by EQIP varies by EQIP fund account.

Financial assistance for irrigation related practices are allowed only for land that has been irrigated for 2 out of the last 5 years or NRCS has provided an approved waiver to this requirement.

Financial assistance for practices related to animal waste storage or treatment facility on an animal feeding operation (AFO), requires that the participant develop an NRCS approved comprehensive nutrient management plan (CNMP) prior to implementation of any waste storage and handling facility or nutrient management activities. This includes any conservation practice planned for an AFO associated with storing, treating, application, or handling (transfer) of animal waste or organic byproducts, such as animal carcasses.  Implementation of all practices cited in the CNMP is required by the end of the contract period, regardless of financial assistance provided. This requirement is established in program statute, regulation and may not be waived.

Financial assistance for forest-related practices on nonindustrial private forestland (NIPF), requires that the participant develop an NRCS approved Forest Management Plan (FMP) prior to implementation of any forest-related conservation practice. The FMP must be fully implemented before the end of the contract period. Per program rule, a forest management plan is a site-specific plan that is prepared by a professional resource manager, in consultation with the participant, and is approved by the State Conservationist. Forest management plans include a forest stewardship plan as specified in section 5 of the Cooperative Forestry Assistance Act of 1978 (16 U.S.C. Section 2103a), another practice plan approved by the State forester or Indian Tribe, or another plan determined appropriate by the State Conservationist. This requirement is established in program statute, regulation and may not be waived.

Financial Assistance through the EQIP Organic Initiative, requires that the EQIP schedule of operations include conservation practices that are consistent with an organic system plan (OSP).

2016 contract will be developed using the 2016 Payment Schedule which will be posted soon.

General Application Information

Applications for the EQIP are accepted on a continuous basis throughout the year and are open to all eligible agricultural producers regardless of size of operation, type of operation or amount of income produced.  There is usually just one application deadline date each year in New Mexico, but that is subject to change and would be announced on this web site.  The current application deadline date for the various EQIP fund accounts and initiatives is January 15, 2016. 

For a list of the fund accounts and application deadline dates please click on the EQIP Fund Account Options.

Applying for assistance, application evaluation and plan/contract development can be a lengthy process requiring several weeks to several months.  It is important to keep in mind that any work begun or completed on the land offered for a contract before a fully approved contract is executed is not eligible for financial assistance, unless an approved waiver is secured in advance.

Applicant and Land Eligibility Requirements (7 CFR Part 1466.6)

To be considered for funding, all EQIP applications must meet the criteria for producer eligibility, land eligibility, and the proposed project must address at least one natural resource concern.

Information on eligibility is found at EQIP eligibility page.

Historically Underserved Clients

New Mexico strives to insure that Historically Underserved (HU) producers are well informed about EQIP and have every opportunity to participate.  HU applicants include those who qualify as a Beginning Farmer-Rancher, a Socially Disadvantaged Farmer-Rancher, Veteran Farmer or Limited Resource Farmer-Rancher.  For many years, 40 percent to 50 percent of New Mexico EQIP applications have been from HU producers and almost 50 percent of EQIP funds are obligated to HU participants.  Historically underserved clients receive a higher payment rate which may vary by fund account.  The payments for HU contracts are shown on the payment schedule with “(HU).” Participants may be required to provide certain tax documents to verify eligibility as a Limited Resource or Beginning Farmer or Rancher. HU contract participants may receive up to 50% of the payment rate before an approved practice and the practice must be completed within 90 days.

NRCS does not discriminate in the selection of applications.  Preferences given to historically underserved clients are in accordance with The Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2014 (2014 Agricultural Act) which are meant to address the unique circumstances and concerns of socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers, as well as beginning and limited resource farmers and ranchers.

 Click here for definitions of Historically Underserved Clients.

How to Apply

The application form to apply for EQIP is the NRCS-CPA-1200.  Applicants may complete and submit the NRCS-CPA-1200 to their local NRCS Field Office, in person, by fax, by regular mail or by email.  Please click on NRCS Field Offices for the location of the office nearest you.  Please direct all questions about applying for EQIP to your local office.

Applicants are strongly encouraged to thoroughly review all pages of the Application form and Appendix before applying. The document below requires Adobe Acrobat Reader.

NRCS application forms can also be found on the USDA Service Center EForms Web Site.

Only Application Forms received by the NRCS Local Field Offices by the Application Deadline that are complete and signed will be considered for funding.

Application Evaluation and Selection

EQIP applications are evaluated and ranked for available funding based on local, state and national program priorities.  Screening tools may also be used to manage workload and identify projects that will provide the most environmental benefits.  The local Field Office collects information about the applicants’ agricultural operations through existing information, on-site visits, and/or personal communications and works with the applicant to develop an EQIP Conservation Plan/Schedule of Operations.  The information collected is used to rank the application which results in a numerical score. Applicants compete for available EQIP funds within a specific fund account, such as irrigated crop or grazed range or forested land, etc.  Applications are selected for funding in the order of screening priority and highest ranking score.  Applications may be ranked throughout the year as long as funds are available.  The ranking dates can be any third Friday of the month from October to August.

Screening and ranking criteria are developed separately for each EQIP fund account. 

Applicants can request to be considered in all applicable fund accounts or can specify that their application be considered in just certain fund accounts.

Participant Responsibilities

An EQIP contract is a legally binding agreement and the participants’ responsibilities are considerable.  The best place to learn about these responsibilities is to thoroughly review the NRCS-CPS-1200 application form and the Appendix which set forth the terms and conditions of the contract.  A list of many of the responsibilities is found here:  Participant Responsibilities

NRCS Field Office staff will be pleased to answer any questions you may have about participating in EQIP.

EQIP Fund Accounts for FY 2016

The table below shows selected fund accounts and ranking deadlines.  This may change and will be updated at least 30 days before new deadlines are set.

EQIP Sign-up Options
Click on each sign-up option below for more information, including eligible practices, ranking criteria and practice caps.

Local EQIP Funds are allocated to address resource concerns at the level of the Local Field Offices. March 18, 2016
New Mexico Watershed Initiative Watersheds with high priority resource concerns have been approved to receive funds held in a funding pool at the state level. March 18, 2016
EQIP Organic Initiative Special EQIP funding is available to certified organic growers and those transitioning to organic production. A wide suite of practices are available to address a host of resource concerns April 15, 2016
New Mexico Socially Disadvantaged - Tribal New Mexico sets aside a portion of EQIP funding for Tribal producers April 15, 2016
New Mexico Beginning Farmer/Rancher New Mexico sets aside a portion of EQIP funding for beginning farmers and ranchers.  Eligible Veteran producers are given higher preference for funding in this account. April 15, 2016
Conservation Activity Plan Financial assistance will be provided to agricultural producers who want to obtain a conservation activity plan from a NRCS approved (private) Technical Service Provider (TSP).  March 18 and April 15, 2016
Lesser Prairie Chicken Initiative - Working Lands for Wildlife Producers engaged in grazing operations with leks, or the potential for leks, are encouraged to apply for EQIP financial assistance.  This initiative is intended to assist with ongoing recovery efforts for this species of concern.  The initiative is available to producers in Chaves, Curry, De Baca, Eddy, Lea, Roosevelt and Quay counties. April 15, 2016
On-Farm Energy Initiative Special EQIP funding is available to agricultural producers prepared to implement specific practices with energy benefits, including irrigation improvements, Farmstead energy improvements, Tillage management, Pumping plant improvements, and more. April 15, 2016
High Tunnel Initiative Special EQIP funding is available to agricultural producers to erect new high tunnels and associated practices. April 15, 2016
New Mexico Acequia Initiative Funding to assist multiple landowners receiving irrigation water from a legally organized acequia association to plan, design and install irrigation conveyance improvements and associated components. April 15, 2016
National Water Quality Initiative Funding to assist producers to address high priority water resource concerns in selected small watersheds. April 15, 2016
Ogallala Aquifer Initiative Funds are available in selected counties (Curry, Lea, and Roosevelt) to turn off pumps using water from the Ogallala Aquifer, in an attempt to sustain the aquifer.  Producers can seed their land to permanent vegetation and also enhance wildlife habitat. April 15, 2016
Strikeforce Initiative A multiagency program to better serve persistently impoverished communities and socially disadvantaged farmers or ranchers through the coordination of activities among USDA agencies and the use of community-based organizations’ local expertise. April 15, 2016
Joint Chief’s Landscape Restoration Under the Joint Chiefs’ Landscape Restoration Partnership (LRP), NRCS and the Forest Service are working together to target conservation and restoration to measurably improve the health and resiliency of forest ecosystems where public and private lands meet to provide for long-term natural resources and production benefits April 15, 2016
Regional Conservation Partnership Program Funds will be available to assist producers to address a wide range of resource concerns in approved project areas. TBD

*CCPI and AWEP were not re-authorized under the Agricultural Act of 2014.


Previous New Mexico EQIP Web Pages


Please direct all questions about applying for EQIP to your local office.  Click here for the location of the office nearest you USDA Service Center.

Kristin Graham Chavez
Assistant State Conservationist for Programs
(505) 761-4404

Athena Pratt
Resource Conservationist for Programs
(505) 761-4419 voice
(855) 538-6003 fax