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USDA Environmental Quality Incentives Program Eligibility

The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) is a voluntary program that provides financial and technical assistance to eligible agricultural producers who are willing to address priority environmental issues by implementing conservation practices. It is administered by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.

In addition to filling out the Conservation Program Application for EQIP (NRCS-CPA-1200) the following is a list of requirements and documentation needed to be eligible for the program.

Working With the USDA-NRCS

  • If you are not established as a USDA customer at your local Farm Service Agency, please visit our How to Apply for USDA-NRCS Conservation Programs Web page for more information on working with the USDA.
  • If you have not worked with the NRCS before, please visit our Web page Conservation Planning in New York to learn more about working with your local NRCS representative to develop a conservation plan for your land.

Local NRCS staff will determine eligibility for EQIP based on the following criteria. Applicants will be required to provide NRCS with information or documents through the EQIP application process to support their EQIP eligibility and complete their application. Applicants that are determined to not be eligible will be notified by NRCS for follow up action.

Detailed information on EQIP producer and land eligibility and the required documentation can be found in the EQIP Eligibility Documentation Checklist (see end of this page).

Producer Eligibility

To participate in EQIP, an applicant must be an individual, entity or joint operation and meet the following criteria:

  • Must be engaged in agricultural production or forestry management, or have an interest in the agricultural or forestry operation being offered for enrollment in EQIP.
  • Must have signature authority to obligate an EQIP contract to a legal entity, joint operation or Indian tribe. Signature authority provides documentation that an individual or individuals are authorized to sign the contract forms on behalf of the entity for EQIP enrollment and payments. Form CCC-901, “Member’s Information”, can be used to document signature authority.
  • Must be in compliance with the highly erodible land (HEL) and wetland conservation (Swampbuster) compliance provisions of the Food Security Act of 1985, as amended. See Form AD-1026 below for details.
  • Must be within appropriate payment limitation requirements as specified in the Food Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (2008 Farm Bill). The 2008 Farm Bill generally limits EQIP payments to a maximum of $300,000 from 2009-2014.
  • If applying as a non-individual using a Tax Identification Number (examples: LLC, Non-Profit Organization, Sole Proprietor), a Dun and Bradstreet Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number must be provided to NRCS and registered with Central Contractor Registration (CCR). The DUNS number is required prior to contract approval but is not required at the time of application. For information on obtaining a DUNS number you can read our New York Fact Sheet online, download a printable version (below), or visit the Dun and Bradstreet - Duns Number Request Service.

Organic Producers Applying for the Organic Initiative

  • Certified organic operations must provide a copy of their Organic System Plan (OSP) in order to be eligible for the Organic Initiative component of EQIP.
  • Operations transitioning to organic production must provide the contact information of their accredited certifying organic agent and self-certify that they agree to develop and implement an OSP in order to be eligible for the Organic Initiative component of EQIP.
  • Exempt operations (operations that are exempt from organic certification because they have gross agricultural income from organic sales less than $5000) must self-certify that they agree to develop and implement an OSP and provide documentation to show they sell less than $5000 in organic products in order to be eligible for the Organic Initiative component of EQIP.

See EQIP Organic Initiative National Worksheet and Self Certification document below.

Note: Organic producers are not required to apply for the Organic Initiative. They may also apply for general EQIP in which case they are not required to meet these additional requirements.

Historically Underserved Designation

Historically underserved applicants must self-certify their status at the time of application for EQIP on the Conservation Program Application: NRCS-CPA-1200. This self-certification is subject to review and verification by NRCS at a later date. Historically underserved applicants include: Beginning Farmers, Socially Disadvantaged Farmers, and Limited Resource Farmers. For more information on these designations see the Small and Limited and Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Web page.

Land Eligibility

The land being offered for enrollment in EQIP must meet the following criteria:

  • Must be privately owned, Indian land, or publicly owned agricultural land, non-industrial private forest land, or other land on which agricultural products, livestock, or forest-related products are produced.
  • Must have an identified natural resource concern that may be addressed.
  • Must have documented control of the land for enrollment for the term of the proposed contract period (such as deed, lease, agreement, etc).
  • Must have written permission from the landowner to install a structural practice on leased land.
  • Land enrolled in other conservation programs may be ineligible for EQIP.
  • If applying for water conservation and irrigation practices, the land must have been irrigated for two of the last five years.

EQIP Eligibility and Other Programs

EQIP program rules and eligibility requirements apply to all National, Regional and State EQIP initiatives.

The following documents require Adobe Reader. All documents are less than 250 KB in size.

Form Number Form Name
NRCS-CPA-1200 Conservation Program Application with Appendix
AD-1026 Highly Erodible Land Conservation (HELC) and Wetland Conservation (WC) Certification
CCC-901 Member’s Information
  Dun and Bradstreet Data Universal Numbering System and Central Contractor Registration - New York Fact Sheet
  EQIP Eligibility Documentation Checklist
  EQIP Organic Initiative National Worksheet and Self Certification

To contact your local NRCS representative, visit our USDA Service Center Locator to find the address, phone number, and driving directions for the service center nearest you.

For additional information on EQIP initiatives and funding opportunities, please refer to the Environmental Quality Incentives Program web page.