What's New in EQIP?
EQIP Interim Final Rule with Request for Comment on Regulations.gov
News Release - New Sign up for Conservation Initiatives
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
The Environmental Quality Incentives Program, also called EQIP, provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers that address natural resource concerns and improve water and air quality, conserve ground and surface water, reduce soil erosion and sedimentation or improve or create wildlife habitat.
You can receive technical assistance to create a conservation plan to address natural resource concerns on your land and financial assistance to implement conservation practices. Payments are made to participants after the conservation practices and activities identified in an EQIP plan of operations are implemented. Contracts can last up to 10 years.
Who Can Participate?
Agricultural producers and owners of non-industrial private forestland and tribes are eligible to apply for EQIP. Cropland, rangeland, pastureland, non-industrial private forestland and other farm or ranch lands are eligible.
Socially disadvantaged, beginning and limited resource farmers, Indian tribes and veterans may qualify for increased payment rates of up to 90 percent and receive advance payments 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
How Do I Apply?
Visit your local USDA service center to apply or see Getting Started with NRCS.
NRCS will help eligible producers develop an EQIP plan of operations, which will become the basis of the EQIP contract. NRCS establishes a cutoff date annually for applications to be evaluated and ranked for current year funding.
For 2015 financial assistance, the cutoff date for general EQIP applications was Nov. 21, 2014. The deadline to apply for special initiatives was March 20. Special initiatives include longleaf pine, seasonal high tunnels, pollinators, national water quality, organic, on-farm energy and working lands for wildlife.
Applications received after the cutoff date will be held for evaluation for funding the following fiscal year. EQIP applications will be ranked based on a number of factors, including the environmental benefits and cost effectiveness of the proposal.
The following national priorities, consistent with statutory resources concerns that include soil, water, wildlife, air quality, and related natural resource concerns, may be used in EQIP implementation:
- Reductions of non-point source pollution, such as nutrients, sediment, pesticides or excess salinity in impaired watersheds consistent with total maximum daily loads where available; the reduction of surface and groundwater contamination; and the reduction of contamination from agricultural sources, such as animal feeding operations.
- Conservation of ground and surface water resources.
- Reduction of emissions, such as particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds, and ozone precursors and depleters that contribute to air quality impairment violations of National Ambient Air Quality Standards.
- Reduction in soil erosion and sedimentation from unacceptable levels on agricultural land.
- Promotion of at-risk species habitat conservation including development and improvement of wildlife habitat.
- Energy conservation to help save fuel, improve efficiency of water use, maintain production and protect soil and water resources by more efficiently using fertilizers and pesticides.
- Biological carbon storage and sequestration.
In Florida, the following priorities guide EQIP application selection:
- Water Quality Degradation
- Insufficient Water (Surface and Ground Water Quantities)
- Soil Health (Erosion & Quality)
- Plant and Animal Health (Degraded Plant Condition & Livestock Production Limitation)
- Inadequate Habitat for Fish and Wildlife
Applicants are responsible for completing and filing application and eligibility paperwork required. The applicant must not start any financially assisted practice or activity or engage the reimbursable services of a certified Technical Service Provider before a written contract is approved, unless a waiver is approved by the state conservationist. If funded, participants are required to sign a contract and agree to implement the planned conservation practices to NRCS standards and specifications as scheduled.
Historically Underserved Producers
Socially disadvantaged, beginning and limited resource farmers and Indian tribes qualify for increased payment rates and may receive advance payments of up to 50 percent to purchase materials and services needed to implement conservation practices included in their EQIP contract.
Ranking Templates and Payment Schedules
FY 2015 Payment Schedules and Ranking Templates (PDF files)
National EQIP website
EQIP funded initiatives:
Conservation Activity Plans - NRCS may also provide financial assistance to participants for conservation planning services through a Technical Service Provider (TSP) to develop Conservation Activity Plans (CAP).
ï»¿Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG)
Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP)
EQIP fact sheet (PDF, 1.6MB)
EQIP fact sheet - Spanish version (PDF, 1.6MB)
The NRCS national EQIP website has more information.
Florida EQIP FY 2014 (Archived)