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Program Documents

Environmental Quality Incentives Program

The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) is a voluntary conservation Tillage radish cover reduces soil compaction and increases infiltrationprogram for persons who are engaged in livestock, forestry or agricultural production, including organic production. EQIP offers financial and technical assistance to implement conservation practices on eligible agricultural land.

Decisions related to how a crop is produced affect the environment, and vice-versa. The EQIP program provides payments for implementing conservation practices that have a positive environmental impact, while protecting long term agricultural production and sustainability. NRCS professionals work with producers to develop a conservation plan for their operation, design conservation practices, and provide guidance to help implement the plan.

Program Opportunities within EQIP Description
Conservation Activity Plans EQIP financial assistance is available for the development of Conservation Activity Plans (CAP). A CAP can be developed for producers to identify conservation practices needed to address a specific natural resource need. Typically, these plans are specific to certain kinds of land use such as transitioning to organic operations, grazing land, forest land, or can also address a specific resource such as nutrient management. All Conservation Activity Plans are developed by a certified Technical Service Provider (TSP) to help agricultural producers and forest owners address specific natural resource concerns on their land.
Cropland The primary focus of this funding pool is to assist producers with resource concerns on cropland such as soil quality and erosion control.
Irrigated Cropland The primary focus of this funding pool is to assist producers with water conservation on irrigated cropland.
Forest land The forest land fund pool is a statewide pool for producers with non-industrial private forestland. The goal of the ranking is to address resource concerns within forestland.  Producers may receive financial assistance to develop a forest stewardship plan or to implement practices within an approved forest stewardship plan.
Livestock The livestock funding pool is available to applicants statewide that have livestock with existing resource concerns. The program is used to address natural resource concerns on operations involving the production, growing, raising, or reproducing of livestock. Resource concerns related to storage, treatment, and management of animal waste are included.
Wildlife Habitat The wildlife habitat funding pool is for the promotion of wildlife habitat conservation. The funding pool is available for producers who will restore, develop, or enhance wildlife.
Beginning Farmer The primary focus of this funding pool is to assist beginning farmers with addressing resource concerns on their operations. Visit Opportunities for Historically Underserved Producers in New Jersey to learn more.
Socially Disadvantaged Producers The primary focus of this funding pool is to assist socially disadvantaged producers with addressing resource concerns on their operations. Visit Opportunities for Historically Underserved Producers in New Jersey to learn more.
Working Lands for Wildlife The Working Lands for Wildlife Initiative is a partnership with the U.S. Fish and wildlife Service to combat the decline of wildlife species whose decline can be reversed. New Jersey targets Golden Winged Warbler and Bog Turtle Habitat improvements to reverse the decline and benefit other species with similar habitat needs.
Organic Initiative The organic initiative provides financial assistance to help implement conservation practices for organic producers or those transitioning to organic.
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.
National Water Quality Initiative NRCS will help producers implement conservation and management practices through a systems approach to control and trap nutrient and manure runoff. Qualified producers will receive assistance for installing conservation practices such as cover crops, filter strips and terraces in the Upper Cohansey River, Upper Salem River, and Upper Alloway Creek Watersheds to address documented phosphorus, bacteria, and sediment impairments which may be caused by soil erosion, exposed soil, and lack of riparian buffers and filter strips.
Soil Health Initiative The Soil Health Initiative offers technical and financial assistance to New Jersey agricultural producers to implement multi-species cover crops and companion conservation practices.

Apply Anytime

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.

What Practices Receive Funding?

installing computer monitoring soil moisture device

With input from the State Technical Committee, NRCS determines the eligible conservation practices used to improve environmental quality both on and off the farm. The resource concerns addressed through EQIP include soil quality, soil erosion, water quality, water quantity, air quality, and animal and plant species of concern. A list of conservation practices was developed to address these resources concerns in New Jersey. Each practice is meant to work in combination with others as part of the total resource management plan on the farm. Implementing conservation practices on your farm may increases your economic flexibility and long term profitability while strengthening your stewardship of natural resources and the environment. Because practices work in concert with one another, practices may address more than one resource concern.

The State Technical Committee has identified the top 4 priority resource concerns:

  1. Water Quality Degradation (nutrients, pesticides, pathogens, temperature, sediment)
  2. Soil Erosion (sheet, rill, concentrated flow)
  3. Soil Quality Degradation (subsidence, compaction, organic matter depletion)
  4. Inadequate Habitat for Fish and Wildlife (habitat degradation)

NRCS has identified the following national priorities, consistent with statutory resource concerns that include soil, water, wildlife, air quality, and related natural resource concerns, may be used in EQIP implementation:

  1. Reductions of nonpoint source pollution
  2. Conservation of ground and surface water resources
  3. Reduction of emissions
  4. Reduction in soil erosion and sedimentation
  5. promotion of at-risk species habitat conservation

Interested applicants can review the program information available on this website and should request a new or updated conservation plan for their farm. An NRCS conservationist will meet with you to evaluate the soil, water, air, plant and animal resources on your property and offer several alternatives to address the resource conditions. The alternatives you decide to use are recorded in your conservation plan which includes a schedule for installation.

A contract offer is developed based on the conservation plan, and is ranked on how well the proposed practices meet national, state, and local environmental objectives, as well as their cost-efficiency. EQIP offers contracts with a maximum term of ten years and a minimum term of one year.

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.

Who is Eligible?

Applicants must have current crop and producer records on file with USDA’s Farm Service Agency. They must comply with the adjusted gross income limitation (AGI) provisions and be in compliance with the highly erodible land and wetland conservation requirements. They must own or control the land for the term of the proposed contract, agree to implement specific eligible conservation practices according to the contract schedule, and have an interest in an agricultural operation. There must be an existing resource concern that can be addressed through an NRCS conservation practice.

In order for land to be eligible for an irrigation-related practice in EQIP, including irrigation engines, that land must have been irrigated in two out of the last five years. In addition, Irrigation Water Management must be implemented on all land contracted for an irrigation-related practice for three consecutive years following the practice implementation.

field

Land is not eligible EQIP 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) for the same practice on the same land. Land is also ineligible if it is used for mitigation purposes, or if it is publicly owned, unless the publicly owned land is part on an eligible operation.

Additional restrictions and program requirements may apply.

What are the Payment Rates and Terms?

Individual practice payments rates are calculated as a percentage (45 – 75%) of the typical cost of labor, materials, and equipment to implement the practice in New Jersey. Typical practice implementation scenarios are developed on a national and regional basis. The Mid-Atlantic regional team determines the typical inputs of labor, materials, and equipment to implement a practice in the region. The rates of those inputs are then adjusted for each state within the region. If the applicant is a beginning farmer, socially disadvantaged, or limited resource producer, the rates are 25% higher, up to a maximum of 90% of the typical cost. There is a $450,000 payment limitation for the period of October 1, 2013 (FY 2014) to September 30, 2018 (FY 2018).

Projected payments in the approved conservation program contract are based on practice extent and not cost. Payments are made after conservation practices are implemented to the standards agreed to in advance. The conservation practice standard contains information on why and where the practice is applied, and it sets forth the minimum quality criteria that must be met during the application of that practice in order for it to achieve its intended purpose(s). Conservation payments are set at the time of contracting independent of the actual cost of implementation. It is the responsibility of the contract holder to cover the remaining balance of the practice implementation costs. View the application documents page for more information on the current payment rates.

How Does Signup for EQIP Work?

irrigation in blueberries

EQIP applications can be submitted anytime during the year. EQIP has a continuous sign-up with application cut-off dates to rank and prioritize any new or unfunded applications. A signed application can be filed with the local NRCS office at any time. View Current Funding Opportunities for current application periods. A signed application indicates an interest in developing a conservation plan, the first step in the application process.

EQIP is a competitive program that uses an evaluation and ranking process to assess the needs and cost effectiveness of implementing the conservation plan. Applications are grouped for competitive ranking into "funding pools" with the highest ranked applications in each pool selected for contract development. Funding pools that NRCS has established have been cropland, irrigated cropland, livestock, and forestland. View the application documents page for more information on ranking tools.

Contract offers that include practices to address soil quality, soil erosion, water quality, reduced animal waste production and reduced energy consumption are high priority.

Visit Opportunities for Historically Underserved Producers in New Jersey to learn more about how NRCS is committed to ensuring that its programs and services are accessible to all our customers, fairly and equitably, with emphasis on reaching the under served and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers, and tribes of our state.


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