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EQIP - Environmental Quality Incentives Program

Vegetable fields in the Lower Río Loco Valley.

Program Overview

The Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) is a voluntary conservation program reauthorized in the 2014 Farm Bill.  EQIP provides  financial and technical assistance to farmers and ranchers to help them install and implement conservation practices on eligible agricultural land. Through EQIP, farmers in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands can receive assistance to improve agricultural production and environmental quality as compatible goals.

EQIP provides financial assistance payments to eligible producers based on a portion of the typical costs associated with conservation planning and practice implementation.  EQIP activities are carried out according to a conservation plan that NRCS Field Office staff develop in conjunction with the producer. The conservation plan identifies the conservation practice or practices needed to address resource concerns identified on the farm. EQIP-funded practices must follow NRCS standards and specifications. 

What's New

General Program Information

Owners of land in agricultural or forest production, or persons who are engaged in livestock, agricultural or forest production on eligible land and that have a natural resource concern on the land may participate in EQIP.  Apply for our Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) before December 20, 2013 to be considered for FY2014 funding.

National EQIP Initiatives

  • On-Farm Energy Initiative (NOFEI) (EQIP Energía) - The EQIP On-Farm Energy Initiative identifies ways to conserve energy on the farm through an Agricultural Energy Management Plan (AgEMP), conservation activity plan (CAP) or on-farm energy audit, and helps producers implement energy audit recommendations by applying NRCS conservation practices to improve energy efficiency.
  • Organic Initiative (NOI) - The EQIP Organic Initiative helps certified organic producers and producers who are transitioning to organic to 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).

Caribbean Area EQIP Initiatives

  • Conservation Innovation Grants - Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) is a voluntary program intended to stimulate the development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches in conjunction with agricultural production.
  • Coral Reef Initiative - 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. (Comprehensive Nutrient Management and Integrated Pest Management Plans).
  • National Water Quality Initiative - The Water Quality Initiative is a focused approach to help landowners in priority watersheds to apply selected conservation practices to reduce the flow of sediment, nutrients and other pollutants in runoff into impaired waterways.  The priority watershed in the Caribbean Area for FY 2012 and 2013 is the Añasco River Watershed. For FY 2014, the Río Guanajibo Watershed has been added to NWQI.
  • South Aquifer Initiative - The South Aquifer Watershed Project in Juana Diaz and Santa Isabel, PR, was initiated in 2005 to address a critical decline of the water table and salt water intrusion into the aquifer. The project aims to protect, preserve and improve the quality and quantity of agricultural resources in the watershed.  It currently includes water management projects in Santa Isabel, Coloso Valley and Guánica.
  • FY2014 Initiatives - Seasonal High Tunnel, Pineapple Specialty Crop, Agroforestry, U.S. Virgin Islands.

Caribbean Area Resource Concerns

  • Protecting and conserving soils to reduce soil erosion and sedimentation.
  • Improving air quality by reducing odors, greenhouse gases (methane and carbon dioxide) from AFOs/CAFOs, and chemical drift; planting trees for carbon sequestration.
  • Reducing energy consumption and improving energy use efficiency.
  • Promoting habitat recovery and protecting threatened/endangered species.
  • Improving grazing & crop land plant & soil condition (reducing compaction, invasive species, contaminants, organic matter depletion and improving plant productivity).
  • Improving water retention, water use efficiency and conserving water resources.
  • Reducing surface & ground water quality impairment from pathogens, pesticides, excessive nutrients & organics, salinity and sediment.

Applying for Conservation Programs

For someone who has never applied for a USDA program, the conservation application process may seem confusing.  Click on the graphic below to follow the 5 steps to Get Started with NRCS!

5 Steps to Get Started with NRCS!

Cutoff Dates

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. To obtain an EQIP application, visit or contact your local NRCS field office.

For Fiscal Year 2014, NRCS has established the following cutoff dates:

Period 1
  • Application cutoff - December 20, 2013
  • Eligibility evaluation and Ranking - April 25, 2014
  • Selection of Applications for Funding - April 30, 2014
  • Obligation of Contracts - July 1, 2014
Period 2
  • Application cutoff - January 17, 2014
  • Eligibility evaluation and Ranking - May 9, 2014

For More Information

You can 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.

Contact

José A. Castro, Assistant State Conservationist, at 787-766-5206 x. 117