Conservation Activity Plans
The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) is a voluntary conservation program for persons who are engaged in livestock, forestry or agricultural production, including organic production.
EQIP offers financial assistance for producers interested in obtaining a Conservation Activity Plan for their eligible agricultural land. A conservation activity plan (CAP) combines specific land use objectives associated with a renewable resource with a comprehensive management plan that addresses all of the natural resource concerns within an agriculture or forestry operation. The purpose of a CAP is to outline a combination of vegetative, structural, and/or management practices necessary to protect and sustain natural resources on agricultural and forest landscapes, and to serve as a blueprint for future implementation of conservation practices.
Who is Eligible?
Applicants must have an interest in an agricultural operation and be compliant with the conservation provisions of the 2008 farm bill with current crop and producer records on file with USDA’s Farm Service Agency. They must own or control the land, and agree to implement conservation practices according to the contract schedule.
Land is not eligible for a CAP if it is currently enrolled in another USDA Farm Bill conservation program such as the Wetland Reserve Program (WRP) or the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). Land is also ineligible if it is publically owned, unless the publically owned land is part on an eligible landowners operation and is not the only land offered for enrollment in EQIP.
CAP applications can be submitted anytime during the year. CAP requests will be funded on a first-come, first-served basis (depending on funding availability) as the applications are received and are certified as eligible, without regard to ranking.
Any reserved funds remaining by the final selection period that are not used for these applications will be used for regular EQIP applications.
No more than one specific Conservation Activity Plan will be scheduled per FSA tract; however, different types may be scheduled per tract if on separate land units within the tract.
Payment limitations, adjusted gross income (AGI), and producer eligibility must be verified before the application status is changed to eligible.
Practices related to the CAP may be eligible for EQIP funding once the CAP is completed. Unrelated practices can be applied for in a separate EQIP application.
EQIP-CAP contracts are written with a minimum term that ends one year after the payment is certified for the contracted plan. Contracts are legally binding documents. The plan must be completed within 12 months of contract signing or the contract will be in a non-compliance status subject to termination.
What are the Payment Rates and Terms?
Program payment rates for CAP s in New Jersey are calculated at 75% of the typical cost of plan preparation by an approved Technical Service Provider. If the applicant is a beginning farmer, socially disadvantaged or limited resource producer (all considered historically underserved categories), the rates are 90%. Payments are made after the Conservation Activity Plan is submitted to NRCS for review.
Contracts are subject to payment limitations. No applicant may receive more than $300,000 during any six-year period. Organic farms have a limitation of $80,000 during any six-year period with an annual limit of $20,000.
Contact: Gail Bartok, Assistant State Conservationist for Programs (732) 537-6042