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Environmental Quality Incentives Program

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Before EQIP

With EQIP, the farm owner was able to install a barnyard crossing.

      Before

 

After:
    With EQIP, the farm owner was able to install a barnyard crossing.

General Program Description

EQIP is a voluntary conservation program that provides technical and financial assistance to help farmers and forest landowners implement conservation practices to reduce pollution and improve natural resources. Practice payments based on average costs to implement conservation practices. Payment rates are listed on the annual Practice Payment Schedule. Limited resource Farmers, Beginning Farmers and Ranchers, and Socially Disadvantaged Farmers are eligible for higher payment rates. 

EQIP contracts can be as short as one year with a one year maintenance period. Most projects are completed within three to four years. Total EQIP payments cannot exceed $300,000 per person or entity over the six-year period from 2009 through 2014.

EQIP National Program Purposes

  1. Soil health; Reduce non-point source pollution, such as nutrients, sediment, pesticides, or excess salinity in impaired watersheds

  2. Water quality and quantity;

  3. Nutrient management;

  4. Pest management;

  5. Air quality;

  6. Wildlife habitat, including pollinator habitat;

  7. Invasive species management. 

EQIP State and Local Priorities

Pennsylvania’s EQIP program options reflect national, state, and local environmental priorities. Ranking factors for each option include evaluation questions that reflect national, state, and local priorities.

Pennsylvania EQIP Program Options

A detailed listing of current program options is available by following the above link.

EQIP Eligibility Requirements

  • Applicants must have an interest in an agricultural operation, either as a producer of crops or livestock, or as an owner of land on which an eligible agricultural operation exists. Eligible land includes cropland, pasture, agricultural activities on areas used for livestock and poultry production, private non-industrial forestland, and other farm lands.

  • Applicants must comply with USDA’s Highly Erodible Land (HEL)/Wetland Conservation provisions. For HEL, erosion must be reduced to minimum acceptable levels by the first year of the contract.

  • Due to the lack of a new Farm Bill, new Fiscal Year 2014 participants are not currently required to comply with Adjusted Gross Income provisions (the three-year AGI cannot exceed $1 million, with some exceptions if at least two-thirds of the income is from agricultural production). This is subject to change; participants will be notified if AGI compliance is required as a condition for receiving Fiscal Year 2014 funding.

  • Priority is given to applicants who have a current conservation plan. The conservation plan should describe the practices that will be included on the contract and the schedule for implementing the practices. 

  • Preference is given to applicants who can complete work within 1-3 years. 

  • EQIP participants receiving funds for animal waste storage, handling, or treatment practices are required to develop and implement a Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan

  • Participants agree to maintain conservation practices for the practice life span, which may exceed the length of the contract. 

  • Conservation Practices must meet or exceed Pennsylvania NRCS standards and specifications.

How to Apply for EQIP

Applications are accepted on a continuous basis throughout the year with periodic pooling dates to evaluate, rank, prioritize and select applicants. See Program Application Dates and Deadlines.

The Conservation Program Application (NRCS-CPA-1200) is used to apply.

Other documents that may need to be filed are listed in Part 1 of the contract Appendix (Appendix to Form NRCS-CPA-1200 Conservation Program Contract). These documents, if not already filed, include verification of compliance with Highly Erodible Land/Wetland Conservation provisions (AD-1026); self-certification with compliance with Adjusted Gross Income AGI provisions (current version, if determined to be needed; and for applicants applying as a legal entity or joint operation, listing of members associated with the business using either a current Members Information form (CCC901) or Farm Operating Plan for an Entity (CCC902).

Applicants who wish to designate a Power of Attorney to act on their behalf can use the joint FSA/NRCS Power of Attorney form (FSA-211) to identify people who can sign application and contract documents on their behalf.

Applicants are asked to identify the practice(s) for which they are requesting assistance and the farm(s) on which the proposed practices would be installed.

Forms are available online at USDA Service Center Agencies eForms or at a local USDA Service Center.

Evaluation and Ranking

Requests for assistance normally exceed available funding. A screening and ranking process is used to evaluate each application to determine which applications provide the most benefits and can be offered funding assistance.  Applicants with existing conservation program contracts that are out of compliance or behind schedule are assigned a low priority and not further ranked until other eligible applications are considered.

The review of applications requests will begin with applications received by the end of current cycle and will continue as long as funds are available. Because of the large demand for EQIP assistance, funds are sometimes expended after a few ranking cycles.

Funding - See Pennsylvania 2014 FAP Payment Schedule

Contracts will be awarded to producers with the highest rankings until funds are exhausted. Upon request by the applicant, applications that are not funded in the current fiscal year funding cycle can be retained for consideration in the next federal fiscal year (Begins October 1st).

For more information, please contact:

Edward Sanders
PA EQIP Manager
(717) 237-2201

Lorin Boggs
Acting Assistant State Conservationist, Programs
(717) 274-2597, ext 118