The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) was reauthorized in the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 (Farm Bill) to provide a voluntary conservation program for farmers and ranchers that promotes agricultural production and environmental quality as compatible national goals. EQIP offers financial and technical assistance to help eligible participants install or implement structural and management practices on eligible agricultural land.
EQIP offers contracts with a minimum term that ends one year after the implementation of the last scheduled practices and a maximum term of ten years. These contracts provide payments to implement conservation practices. Landowners and operators who are engaged in livestock or agricultural production on eligible land may participate in the EQIP program. EQIP activities are carried out according to an environmental quality incentives program plan of operations. The plan is developed in conjunction with the producer and identifies the appropriate conservation practice or practices to address the resource concerns. All EQIP conservation practices are subject to NRCS technical standards in the Field Office Technical Guide (FOTG) that are adapted to Delaware conditions. The County Conservation District approves the plan.
EQIP provides payments for certain conservation practices and activities. However certain historically underserved producers (Limited resource farmers/ranchers, beginning farmers/ranchers, socially disadvantaged producers) may be eligible for larger payments. Farmers and ranchers may elect to use a certified Technical Service Provider (TSP) for technical assistance needed for certain eligible activities and services. The new Farm Bill established a new payment limitation for individuals or legal entity participants who may not receive, directly or indirectly, payments that, in the aggregate, exceed $300,000 for all program contracts entered during any six year period. Projects determined as having special environmental significance may, with approval of the NRCS Chief, have the payment limitation raised to a maximum of $450,000.
EQIP applications are accepted throughout the year at Delaware USDA Service Centers.