Environmental Quality Incentives Program
The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) is a voluntary conservation program of the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) that promotes agricultural production and environmental quality. This program is available to farmers, and offers financial and technical assistance to install or implement structural, vegetative and management practices on eligible agricultural land. Applications for EQIP can be made at local NRCS offices.
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.
Applications for EQIP are accepted on a continuous basis. However, each locality has a cutoff date for ranking applications, the first of which is Oct. 19, 2012. The second cutoff date for ranking applications for the EQIP general signup and special initiatives is Dec. 21, 2012. The third cutoff date is Feb. 15, 2013, and the fourth is April 19, 2013. Subsequent statewide cutoff dates to rank additional new applications may be established.
EQIP Initiatives in Iowa
EQIP Wildlife Habitat Information
EQIP Process and Deadlines
Iowa NRCS, through the state technical committee, requested and received input on resource concerns, practices needed to treat the resource concerns, financial incentives and EQIP implementation. The State Technical Committee is a broad-based group of public and private agencies interested in natural resources protection, including agricultural commodity and agribusiness interests, federal, state and local agencies and environmental groups. The committee meets periodically to advise USDA-NRCS on the implementation of conservation programs in Iowa. Local work groups function similarly in each level of the Soil and Water Conservation District.
EQIP funding may be approved for the following resource concerns:
Surface and subsurface water quality related to the presence of excessive nutrients and organics related to livestock production by animal feeding operations on open feedlots
Plant condition and management to protect/improve pastureland, soil erosion control.
Wildlife management to protect at risk wildlife species.
The majority of EQIP funds will be distributed through Iowa's 100 NRCS field offices. These funds are distributed based on the:
percent of agricultural land in the county with impaired waters due to agricultural concerns (as identified by Section 303(d) of Clean Water Act)
number of livestock in the county
soil types with a Land Capability Class IIe and greater
acres needing wildlife habitat conservation systems
Statewide guidance to local work groups includes:
EQIP financial assistance for eligible practices is based on a payment schedule. For a list of practice descriptions and payment rates, go to: FY2013 EQIP Practice Descriptions and Payment Rates (Coming Soon) | Map of Iowa Common Resource Areas (CRA) for Payment Rates and Rankings (PDF). For the list of eligible practices in individual counties, go to: Link to County EQIP Information.
Property line fences are not eligible for EQIP financial assistance.
Existing livestock facilities with an untreated resource concern are eligible for financial assistance for treatment of livestock waste. (New livestock facilities are not eligible.)
If a waste storage facility maximum payment is established at the local level, it cannot be less than $50,000.
Contracts that include treatment of livestock waste require a Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan (CNMP) be developed prior to installation of the first practice. Contracts that include forestry practices require a Forest Management Plan prior to installation of the first practice. Contracts that include practices to convert to organic farming require an Organic Management Plan prior to installation of the first practice. All practices (contracted or not contracted) included in the management plans must be fully applied.
Payments for land management practices are to be limited to the minimum amount necessary to encourage the producer to apply the practice and are limited to no more than 3 years of payments.
Limited Resource Producers, Beginning Farmers, Tribal Farmers and Socially Disadvantaged Producers are eligible for a higher payment rate.
Within state EQIP requirements each district conservationist working with a local work group has established local resource concerns, practices, and an application ranking process to prioritize applications for funding. Applications for EQIP are accepted on a continuous basis. However, each locality has a cutoff date for ranking applications, the first of which is Oct. 19, 2012. The second cutoff date for ranking applications for the EQIP general signup and special initiatives is Dec. 21, 2012. The third cutoff date is Feb. 15, 2013, and the fourth is April 19, 2013. Subsequent statewide cutoff dates to rank additional new applications may be established. NRCS may establish local, minimum ranking cutoff levels for funding selection. Use the "Link to County EQIP Information" for details on the county EQIP information.
Contact your local NRCS Field Office for additional information.
Iowa NRCS EQIP Contact:
Paul Goldsmith, 515-284-4353