The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) is a voluntary conservation program that supports production agriculture and environmental quality as compatible goals. It provides financial and technical assistance to farmers and ranchers who install conservation practices that address natural resource concerns on agricultural lands.
Farmers and ranchers can apply for financial assistance for many types of structural and management conservation practices, which address the following priority resource concerns identified by the State Technical Advisory Committee and the Local Work Groups:
- Animal Waste from Confined Livestock Operations
- Sedimentation from Accelerated Erosion
- Noxious Weeds
- Insufficient Water Supply for Livestock or Irrigation
- Pesticide or Nutrient Contamination of Ground or Surface Waters
- At-Risk Species Habitat
- Invasive Species (Coqui Frog, Little Fire Ant, Nettle Caterpillar)
- Ground and Surface Water Conservation
Pacific Islands Area EQIP Initiatives
The following Initiatives are offered in the PIA:
- National On-Farm Energy Initiative (NOFEI) - NRCS will help producers identify ways to conserve energy on their farms through an Agricultural Energy Management Plan (AgEMP) conservation activity plan (CAP) or on-farm energy audit, and help producers implement energy audit recommendations by applying NRCS conservation practices to improve energy efficiency.
- National Organic Initiative (NOI) - NRCS will help eligible producers (certified organic producers and producers who are transitioning to become certified organic) install conservation practices on organic agricultural operations. Resource concerns to be addressed include: Soil condition, Soil erosion, Water quality (nutrients, organics, sediment, pathogens and temperature), Water quantity, Domestic animals (inadequate feed, forage, water & shelter), Plant condition, and Fish & wildlife (inadequate cover/shelter, threatened & endangered species).
- Coral Reef Initiative - This initiative is not being offered in FY15. NRCS will help producers reduce nonpoint source pollutants (nutrients, sediment, or pesticides) in impaired watersheds, reducing groundwater contamination, and conserving ground and surface water resources, through comprehensive nutrient management and integrated pest management plans.
- National Water Quality Initiative – Hilo Bay (NWQI) – NRCS will help producers address high-priority water quality resource concerns in nine selected watershed 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.
EQIP Eligibility Requirements
Private landowner or lease holder engaged in livestock or crop production on eligible land (such as croplands, pasture and hayland, rangeland, private non-industrial forestland) may apply for EQIP.
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.
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 Fiscal Year 2015 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.
2015 EQIP Conservation Signup and Application Documents
Interested agricultural producers in Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, Tinian, Saipan or Rota may apply in person at any USDA Service Center. Applicants may also request EQIP assistance by telephone, FAX, e-mail, or letter. The FY 2015 EQIP application period is continuous throughout the year. Applications will be processed on a first-come, first-served basis. A signed application form CCC-1200 (see below) must be submitted to be considered for fiscal year 2015 funds. Application forms and additional signup information can be obtained from your local USDA Service Center or NRCS Field Office.
Visit the USDA Service Center eForms Web Site for instructions and information.
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.
Local Participation and Work Groups
NRCS supports locally-led conservation in the delivery of conservation programs. The USDA Local Work Group serves as the starting point in the development and coordination of programs to provide an integral approach for addressing local natural resource concerns. The Local Working Group ensures that the conservation needs assessment is developed using community stakeholder input. Utilizing the assessment process, the Local Working Group identifies resource concerns, recommends practices, priorities, local costs of materials and labor, and funding needs.
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