The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) is a voluntary conservation program that helps agricultural producers in a manner that promotes agricultural production and environmental quality as compatible goals. Through EQIP, agricultural producers receive financial and technical assistance to implement structural and management conservation practices that optimize environmental benefits on working agricultural land.
EQIP applications are accepted on a continuous basis, however, NRCS establishes application "cut-off" or submission deadline dates for evaluation, ranking, and approval of eligible applications. EQIP is open to all eligible agricultural producers and has multiple funding pools available.
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.
Control or own eligible land
Comply with adjusted gross income (AGI) limitation 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.
Applicants are responsible for completing and filing all application and eligibility paperwork as required. If funded, participants are required to sign a contract and agree to implement the planned conservation practices to NRCS standards and specifications as scheduled. Starting a practice prior to having written contract approval will result in the ineligibility of that practice from EQIP assistance unless a waiver has been approved.
Socially Disadvantaged, Beginning, and Limited Resource Farmers/Ranchers, Military Veteran Farmers
The 2014 Farm Bill continues to address the unique circumstances and concerns of socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers, as well as beginning and limited resource farmers and ranchers, and veteran farmers. It provides for voluntary participation, offers incentives, and focuses on equity in accessing U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) programs and services. Enhancements include increased payment rates and advance payments of up to 50 percent to purchase materials and services needed to implement conservation practices included in their EQIP contract.
Kansas is committed to reaching out to historically underserved individuals and groups. Historically underserved participants may also receive higher payment rates in addition to being considered in high priority funding pools. See the Small & Limited and Beginning Farmers and Ranchers page for the NRCS definition of the historically underserved.
National and State Priorities
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 nonpoint source pollution, such as nutrients, sediment, pesticides, or excess salinity in impaired watersheds consistent with total maximum daily loads (TMDL) 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
Decision Making Process for EQIP
The list of eligible practices in Kansas, payment rates and limits, eligible resource concerns, and state scoring criteria are developed based on input and recommendations from the Kansas Technical Committee (KTC) and Local Work Groups (LWG). The KTC is made up of representatives from various agribusinesses, producer groups, conservation organizations, and federal, state, and tribal government agency representatives. LWGs are formed in each county with local agricultural producers and representatives of agricultural or conservation organizations.
The priorities set at the state and county level are those that the KTC and LWG respectively determined were of the greatest need and would have the greatest positive environmental impact. The scoring process at both the state and local level was developed in order to select those projects that would provide the greatest environmental benefit, and therefore provide the greatest public good.
Fiscal Year 2016 EQIP Deadlines
Applications submitted by November 20, 2015 will be evaluated to be considered for funding in fiscal year 2015. Applications received after that date will be accepted and evaluated for future rounds of funding.
On-Farm Energy Initiative—Producers work with an NRCS approved Technical Service Provider (TSP) to develop Agricultural Energy Management Plans or farm energy audits that assess energy consumption on an operation. NRCS may also provide assistance to implement various recommended measures identified in the energy audit through the use of conservation practice standards offered through this initiative.
Organic Initiative—NRCS will assist producers with installation of conservation practices on agricultural operations related to organic production. Producers currently certified as organic, transitioning to organic, or National Organic Program exempt will have access to a broad set of conservation practices to assist in meeting their resource concerns and fulfilling many of the requirements in an Organic System Plan.
Seasonal High Tunnel Initiative—NRCS helps producers implement high tunnel structures that extend growing seasons for high value crops in an environmentally safe manner. High tunnel benefits include better plant and soil quality, and fewer nutrients and pesticides in the environment.
Water Quality Initiative—The National Water Quality Initiative will work in priority watersheds to help farmers, ranchers and forest landowners improve water quality and aquatic habitats in impaired streams. NRCS will help producers implement conservation and management practices through a systems approach to control and trap nutrient and manure runoff. Qualified producers will receive assistance for installing conservation practices such as cover crops, filter strips and terraces.
Lesser Prairie-Chicken Initiative—The Lesser Prairie-Chicken Initiative is a national initiative designed to improve the lesser prairie-chicken habitat. This initiative will also simultaneously promote the overall health of gazing lands and the long-term sustainability of ranching operations.
Ogallala Aquifer Initiative—Using a comprehensive set of conservation practices, the Ogallala Aquifer Initiative (OAI) aims to reduce aquifer water use, improve water quality and enhance the economic viability of croplands and rangelands in Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, New Mexico, Texas, South Dakota and Wyoming.
Monarch Butterfly Habitat Development Initiative—NRCS is working with agricultural producers to combat the decline of monarch butterflies by planting milkweed and other nectar-rich plants on private lands. Assistance is available for producers in 10 states in the Southern Plains and Midwest, including Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas and Wisconsin.