Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)
South Carolina FY 2015 EQIP Sign-Up and Application Information
Prioritized funding deadline is December 19, 2014.
The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers to address natural resource concerns and deliver environmental benefits such as improved water and air quality, conserved ground and surface water, reduced soil erosion and sedimentation or improved or created wildlife habitat.
2014 Farm Bill: What's New in EQIP?
- The former Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program was folded into EQIP
- Advance payment opportunities now exist for veteran agricultural producers.
- Advance payments for socially disadvantaged, beginning and limited resource farmers, Indian tribes and veterans were raised from 30 percent to 50 percent.
- Payment limitations are set at $450,000 with no ability to waive.
Eligible program participants receive financial and technical assistance to implement conservation practices, or activities like conservation planning, that address natural resource concerns on their land. Payments are made to participants after conservation practices and activities identified in an EQIP plan of operations are implemented. Contracts can last up to ten years in duration.
Agricultural producers and owners of non-industrial private forestland and Tribes are eligible to apply for EQIP. Eligible land includes cropland, rangeland, pastureland, non-industrial private forestland and other farm or ranch lands.
Socially disadvantaged, beginning and limited resource farmers, Indian tribes and veterans are eligible for an increased payment rate and may receive advance payment of up to 50 percent to purchase materials and services needed to implement conservation practices included in their EQIP contract.
- 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.
How to Apply
Visit your local USDA Service Center to apply, or visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/getstarted.
NRCS will help eligible producers develop an EQIP plan of operations, which will become the basis of the EQIP contract.
EQIP applications will be ranked based on a number of factors, including the environmental benefits and cost effectiveness of the proposal.
The EQIP application is based on assistance and decisions reached with producers during the conservation planning process. EQIP applications are prioritized for funding using state, national and locally developed ranking criteria that consider cost-effectiveness, resources to be treated, meeting national EQIP priorities, compliance with federal, state or tribal environmental regulations or reducing the need for future regulations and, to a degree, the location of the contract. Funded EQIP applications result in a contract which lists the practices to be applied along with an application schedule and federal funds committed. Payment rate caps will be used to insure that contract payments are not higher than program rules allow. Conservation practices applied with EQIP funds are to be maintained for the service life of the practice, which may be longer than the term of the EQIP contract. The minimum contract length is one year after the implementation of the last scheduled practice. All contracts have a maximum contract length of ten years. Implemented practices are subject to NRCS technical standards. Farmers may elect to use NRCS or a Technical Service Provider for EQIP technical assistance.
South Carolina Initiatives Overview
On-Farm Energy, Organic, and Seasonal High Tunnel .
The Farm Bill provides specific opportunities for organic producers and those transitioning to organic farming. South Carolina farmers who are transitioning to organic or who are currently certified organic can apply to receive assistance under the Organic Initiative through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Funding is also available through EQIP for a High Tunnel Pilot Study which will enable producers to experiment with structures (also called “hoop houses”) that can help them reduce pesticide use, keep vital nutrients in the soil, extend the growing season, increase yields, and provide other benefits to growers. A number of "core" organic conservation practices may be funded through the EQIP Organic Initiative, including cover crops, conservation crop rotation, prescribed grazing, pest management, nutrient management, and forage harvest management.
NRCS accepts applications for financial assistance on a continuous basis throughout the year. At the end of a ranking period, NRCS ranks all submitted proposals for funding consideration. NRCS will notify all applicants of the results of the rankings and begin developing contracts with selected applicants.
On-Farm Energy Initiative: NRCS and producers develop Agricultural Energy Management Plans (AgEMP) or farm energy audits that assess energy consumption on an operation. NRCS then uses audit data to develop energy conservation recommendations. Each AgEMP has a landscape component that assesses equipment and farming processes and a farm headquarters component that assesses power usage and efficiencies in livestock buildings, grain handling operations, and similar facilities to support the farm operation.
Organic Initiative: NRCS helps certified organic growers and producers working to achieve organic certification install conservation practices for organic production. Applicants will be evaluated continuously during the ranking periods. Applications meeting or exceeding a threshold score may be approved for an EQIP contract before the end of the ranking period. Applications rating below the threshold score will be deferred to the next period. A new threshold score will be established at the beginning of each ranking period. This new scoring process allows organic producers to implement conservation practices in a timelier manner.
Seasonal High Tunnel Pilot Initiative: NRCS helps producers plan and implement high tunnels, steel-framed, polyethylene-covered structures that extend growing seasons in an environmentally safe manner. High tunnel benefits include better plant and soil quality, fewer nutrients and pesticides in the environment, and better air quality due to fewer vehicles being needed to transport crops. More than 4,000 high tunnels have been planned and implemented nationwide through this initiative over the past two years. For more information, contact your local NRCS office.
Conservation Programs Protect Soil, Water, and Wildlife
EQIP helps farmers improve production while protecting environmental quality by addressing such concerns as soil erosion and productivity, grazing management, water quality, animal waste, and forestry concerns. EQIP also assists eligible small-scale farmers who have historically not participated in or ranked high enough to be funded in previous program sign ups. WHIP assists landowners who want to improve wildlife habitat or restore natural ecosystems on their land.
There is a continuous signup for these programs; however, to increase your chances of funding, apply by December 19, 2014. Producers interested in applying should visit their local USDA Service Center as soon as possible to prepare their applications.
2015 EQIP Program Documents
If you encounter any problems with the files provided on this page, please contact Sabrenna Bryant at 803-765-5419.
The following documents require Adobe Acrobat.
2014 EQIP Cost List (PDF; 260 KB)
2013 EQIP Payment Schedule (EXCEL file)
2012 EQIP Payment Schedule (PDF; 220 KB)
EQIP Overview and Application Tools
How EQIP Works in South Carolina
Links to Other Useful Documents for the EQIP Program