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Applying for Conservation Programs

For someone who has never applied for a USDA conservation program, the conservation application process used by NRCS may seem confusing.  The information provided here provides a roadmap for those new to USDA conservation programs.

Several steps must be completed before you can apply for a specific NRCS program like the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).  These steps vary depending on what type of applicant you are. The following are a few definitions can help you in the application process.

  • Applicant – the eligible individual or entity that completes the application paperwork for federal farm program assistance and identifies land to be enrolled in the program. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) identification number used by the applicant will be used to generate any IRS-1099’s for the contract. The IRS identification number could be an employee identification number (EIN) or social security number (SSN).
  • Individual – any individual who controls the enrolled land and uses their personal social security number (SSN) to apply for conservation program assistance.
  • Entity – any partnership, joint venture, corporation (limited liability or other), estate, trust, non-profit association or group, or unit of state or local government that controls the enrolled land and uses an employee identification number (EIN) or social security number (SSN) to apply for conservation program assistance.

Instructions for Conservation Program Application by Type of Applicant

Individual Applicants
  1. Applicant indicates interest in a conservation program by signing the appropriate program Application form.
  2. Applicant establishes a customer record in the Service Center Information Management System (SCIMS). This requires that the applicant make an appointment with the Farm Service Agency (FSA) to register for USDA programs and provide necessary applicant eligibility information.
  3. Applicant completes forms* to determine eligibility for USDA programs:
    • AD-1026 Highly Erodible Land Conservation and Wetland Conservation Certification
    • CCC-902I Farm Operating Plan for Payment Eligibility Review
    • Payment Eligibility Average Adjusted Gross Income (AGI): Fiscal Year 2013 program participants are subject to compliance with average Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) limitations (AGI limitation definition: a person or entity is not eligible if the three-year average AGI exceeds $1 million with less than 66.66% derived from farming or forestry resources).

Entity Applicants

  1. Applicant indicates interest in a conservation program by signing the appropriate program Application form.
  2. Applicant establishes a customer record in the Service Center Information Management System (SCIMS). This requires that the applicant make an appointment with the Farm Service Agency (FSA) to register for USDA programs and provide necessary applicant eligibility information.
  3. Applicant completes forms* to determine eligibility for USDA programs:
    • AD-1026 Highly Erodible Land Conservation and Wetland Conservation Certification
    • CCC-901 Members Information
    • CCC-902E Farm Operating Plan for Payment Eligibility Review

*The process of establishing applicant eligibility may take several weeks. Some forms may need to be updated annually. You must maintain eligibility status throughout the life of the conservation program contract in order to receive program benefits. These eligiblity forms can be accessed on-line for your convenience. Please visit our eForms site at: http://forms.sc.egov.usda.gov/eForms/welcomeAction.do?Home

Failure to provide the required information may cause your application to be considered “ineligible” for the program year.  If your application is not considered for funding in the year you apply, your application may be considered in future years based on funding availability and whether or not you meet the requirements outlined above.

Please contact your local NRCS Field Office or visit our EQIP Signup and Application Information page.