The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) is a voluntary conservation program that helps agricultural producers in a manner that promotes agricultural production and environmental quality as compatible goals. Through EQIP, agricultural producers receive financial and technical assistance to implement structural and management conservation practices that optimize environmental benefits on working agricultural land.
EQIP applications are accepted on a continuous basis, however, NRCS established application “cut-off” or submission deadline dates for evaluation, ranking and approval of eligible applications. EQIP is open to all eligible agricultural producers and submitted applications may be considered or evaluated in multiple funding pool opportunities. Interested agricultural producers in Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam and CNMI (Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands), may apply in person at any USDA Service Center or NRCS Field Office.
To learn how to get started with NRCS, visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/getstarted.
To apply for EQIP, contact your local service center.
EQIP Sign-Up Options
FY 2016 Application Cut-off Dates
EQIP applications may be submitted at any time with your local USDA Service Center or NRCS Field Office. Additional information provided below.
Oct. 16, 2015
Dec. 18, 2015
National On-Farm Energy Initiative (NOFEI)
Assist producers identify ways to conserve energy on their farms through an Agricultural Energy Management Plan (AgEMP), also known as an on-farm energy audit and provide assistance to implement various recommended measures identified in an energy audit.
Oct. 16, 2015
Dec. 18, 2015
|National Organic Initiative (NOI)
Help eligible producers (certified organic producers and producers transitioning to become certified organic) install conservation practices on organic agricultural operations.
Oct. 16, 2015
Dec. 18, 2015
National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI) – Hilo Bay (NWQI)
Assist producers help producers address high-priority water quality resource concerns in nine selected watersheds in Hawaii County on cropland, forestland, grazed lands and animal feeding operations. Eligible producers will receive assistance for installing conservation systems that may include practices such as waste treatment facilities, nutrient management, cover crops, conservation cropping systems, filter strips, terraces, and in some cases, edge-of-field water quality monitoring.
Oct. 16, 2015
Dec. 18, 2015
EQIP Eligibility Requirements
Agricultural producers and owners of non-industrial private forestland are eligible to apply for EQIP. Eligible land includes cropland, rangeland, pastureland, non-industrial private forestland and other farm or ranch lands.
- Control or own eligible land
- Comply with adjusted gross income limitation (AGI) provisions
- Be in compliance with the highly erodible land and wetland conservation requirements
- Develop an NRCS EQIP plan of operations
Additional restrictions and program requirements may apply.
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.
Socially Disadvantaged, Beginning, and Limited Resource Farmers/Ranchers, Military Veteran Farmers
The 2014 Farm Bill continues to address the unique circumstances and concerns of socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers, as well as beginning and limited resource farmers and ranchers and Veteran Farmers. It provides for voluntary participation, offers incentives, and focuses on equity in accessing U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) programs and services. Enhancements include increased payment rates and advance payments of up to 50 percent to purchase materials and services needed to implement conservation practices included in their EQIP contract.
Pacific Islands Area (PIA) is committed to reaching out to Historically Underserved individuals and groups. Historically Underserved participants may also receive higher payment rates in addition to being considered in high priority funding pools. See the Beginning, Limited Resource, and Socially Disadvantaged Farmer or Rancher page for the NRCS definition of the Historically Underserved.
National and State Priorities
The following national priorities, consistent with statutory resources concerns that include soil, water, wildlife, air quality, and related natural resource concerns, may be used in EQIP implementation:
- Reductions of nonpoint source pollution, such as nutrients, sediment, pesticides, or excess salinity in impaired watersheds consistent with total maximum daily loads (TMDL) where available; the reduction of surface and groundwater contamination; and the reduction of contamination from agricultural sources, such as animal feeding operations
- Conservation of ground and surface water resources
- Reduction of emissions, such as particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds, and ozone precursors and depleters that contribute to air quality impairment violations of National Ambient Air Quality Standards
- Reduction in soil erosion and sedimentation from unacceptable levels on agricultural land
- Promotion of at-risk species habitat conservation including development and improvement of wildlife habitat
- Energy conservation to help save fuel, improve efficiency of water use, maintain production, and protect soil and water resources by more efficiently using fertilizers and pesticides and
- Biological carbon storage and sequestration
In addition, Pacific Islands Area has identified the following priorities:
- Animal Waste from Confined Livestock Operations
- Sedimentation from Accelerated Erosion
- Insufficient Water Supply for Livestock
- Pesticide or Nutrient Contamination of Ground or Surface Waters
- At-Risk Species Habitat
- Invasive Plant Species
- Inefficient Use of Irrigation Water
Payment rates are offered for eligible conservation practices under the EQIP program. Limited Resource Producers, Beginning Farmers and Ranchers, Veteran Farmer and Ranchers and Socially Disadvantaged applicants may be eligible for increased payment rates. See Payment Schedules below for listing of all current year EQIP Payment Schedules. (Check out the Limited Resource Farmer and Beginning Farmer Tool to see if you qualify). Program participants may elect to use a certified Technical Service Provider (TSP) for technical assistance. Select Pacific Islands Area on the Technical Service Providers Map to find a certified provider.
The maximum an individual or entity may receive, directly or indirectly, is $450,000 for all EQIP contracts during the term of the Farm Bill. Highest priority will be given to applications that provide the most environmental benefit.
Application Ranking and Selection Process
Applications for EQIP are accepted on a continuous basis, however, NRCS establishes application "cut-off" or submission deadline dates for evaluation and ranking of eligible applications. Once an application is received by NRCS:
- NRCS will contact the applicant to conduct an evaluation and ranking of the application.
- The application will be ranked against all of the other applications within Pacific Island Area fund pools.
- NRCS will notify the applicant in writing of program eligibility or ineligibility, application deferral, or pre-approval for contract development.
- If selected for funding, the contract development process will be initiated.
Applicants selected for funding are not authorized to begin the installation of a conservation practice until they have a CCC-1202 Conservation Program Contract, signed by a CCC representative (NRCS Assistant Director for Field Office Operations) conservation plan, with approved job sheets and designs, and any required permits..
The Ranking Templates used to rank EQIP applications include questions that address various resource concerns and range from Water Quality and Water Quantity to Soil Erosion and Plant/Animal Health. Once all applications have been ranked the allocation process will begin from the highest scoring applications to a set minimum threshold or until all funds have been exhausted.
IMPORTANT EQIP INFORMATION FOR PRODUCERS
Starting a practice prior to written contract approval will result in the ineligibility of that practice for EQIP assistance unless a waiver has been approved (see 440-CPM, Part 512, Subpart E).
- At least one contracted practice must be started within the first 12 months after contract is obligated by NRCS.
- An EQIP contract stays with the land. Therefore, to prevent the possibility of contract penalties such as liquidated damages and / or cost recovery resulting from loss of control of the land due to land sale, the participant must acquire a Successor-In-Interest, through proper documentation, to transfer the contract to the new land owner.
Several practices are included in the program to address resource concerns. Among them are: waste storage facilities, manure transfer, watering facilities for livestock, rotational grazing systems, irrigation systems, erosion control measures such as grassed, waterways, filter strips, contour farming, buffers, and wildlife habitat. Conservation Practices must meet NRCS technical standards. The participant will receive assistance for the planning and implementation of the conservation practices. Pacific Islands Area approved practices for Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, Saipan, Tinian or Rota may be obtained from your local USDA Service Center or NRCS Field Office.
EQIP Conservation Activity Plan (CAP)
Program applications are required to be supported by an NRCS approved conservation plan which provides documentation of the practices that could be used to address natural resource concerns. NRCS will develop and provide program applicants with an approved a conservation plan. Producers may also apply for financial assistance to hire Technical Service Providers (TSP) to develop specialty plans called Conservation Activity Plans (CAP) to address certain land use activities or specific resource needs on your land.
Decision Making Process for EQIP
Input from Outside Groups, Agencies, and Citizens: The list of eligible practices in the Pacific Island Areas, payment rates and limits, eligible resource concerns, and state scoring criteria are developed based on input and recommendations from the State Technical Committee (STC). The STC is made up of representatives from various agribusinesses, producer groups, conservation organizations, and federal, state, and tribal government agency representatives.
The Local Work Group process and scoring criteria are based on input from the counties in the Local Work Groups (LWG).
The priorities set at the state and country level are those that the STC and LWG respectively determined were of the greatest need and would have the greatest positive environmental impact. The scoring process at both the state and local level was developed in order to select those projects that would provide the greatest environmental benefit, and therefore provide the greatest public good.
For More Information
For more information please contact the Assistant Directors for the Pacific Islands Area. You may also contact your local USDA Service Center or NRCS Field Office or visit the National NRCS website at: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/ for more information.
Pacific Islands Area (PI) EQIP Contacts
State Office Resource Conservationist (Programs)
Phone: (808) 541-2600 x 155