Environmental Quality Incentives Program Initiatives - Overview
NRCS staffer working with a customer.
The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) is a voluntary program that provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers through contracts up to a maximum term of ten years in length.
These contracts provide financial assistance to help plan and implement conservation practices that address natural resource concerns and for opportunities to improve soil, water, plant, animal, air, energy conservation, and related resources on agricultural land and non-industrial private forestland. In addition, a purpose of EQIP is to help producers meet Federal, State, Tribal and local environmental regulations.
Air Quality Initiative: NRCS helps producers address air quality concerns on their operations. Assistance includes establishing cover crops, planting windbreaks, implementing nutrient management practices and applying other conservation measures that mitigate and prevent air quality problems. Conservation practices installed through this initiative reduce airborne particulate matter and greenhouse gases and conserve energy.
On-Farm Energy Initiative: NRCS and producers develop Agricultural Energy Management Plans (AgEMP) or farm energy audits that assess energy consumption on an operation. NRCS then uses audit data to develop energy conservation recommendations. Each AgEMP has a landscape component that assesses equipment and farming processes and a farm headquarters component that assesses power usage and efficiencies in livestock buildings, grain handling operations, and similar facilities to support the farm operation.
Seasonal High Tunnel System for Crops: NRCS helps producers plan and implement high tunnels, steel-framed, polyethylene-covered structures that extend growing seasons in an environmentally safe manner. High tunnel benefits include better plant and soil quality, fewer nutrients and pesticides in the environment, and better air quality due to fewer vehicles being needed to transport crops.
Organic Initiative: The Organic Initiative provides financial assistance to implement a broad set of conservation practices to assist organic producers and producers transitioning to organic production in addressing resource concerns. This includes; developing a conservation plan, establishing buffer zones, planning and installing pollinator habitat, improving soil quality and organic matter while minimizing erosion, developing a grazing plan and supportive livestock practices, improving irrigation efficiency, and enhancing cropping rotations and nutrient management.