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Environmental Quality Incentives Program

 

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, farmers and ranchers receive financial and technical assistance to implement structural and management conservation practices that optimize environmental benefits on working agricultural land.

EQIP offers contracts with a minimum term that ends one year after the implementation of the last scheduled practice and a maximum term of 10 years. EQIP activities are carried out according to a conservation plan of operations developed with the program participants. Conservation practices are subject to Kentucky NRCS standards and specifications. Participants may elect to use a certified Technical Service Provider for technical assistance, if available.

Historically underserved farmers and ranchers (beginning farmer/rancher, limited resource farmer/rancher, and socially disadvantaged farmer/rancher) are eligible for a higher payment rate than non-historically underserved customers. Additionally, a separate funding allotment is available for these customers. Certification that participants meet this requirement is made on the application form.

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

Environmental and Operational Benefits

EQIP may provide financial and technical assistance to plan and design measures such as, but not limited to, the following. Please see Kentucky EQIP Policy and Procedures for a list of eligible practices and the conditions under which they are eligible.

  • Grazing management: fencing and livestock watering systems
  • Nutrient management: manure storage structures, planned nutrient applications
  • Erosion control: grade control structures, diversions, grassed waterways
  • Wildlife habitat enhancement: stream buffers, early successional habitat management
  • Forestland management: forest stand improvement, brush management
  • Water Quality Improvement: field borders, livestock exclusion

These and the many other measures included in EQIP can help producers accomplish a variety of operational goals, which may include:

  • Improvements to the long-term productivity and sustainability of an agricultural operation
  • Improved condition of crops and forage for livestock
  • Reduced costs for fuel, labor, fertilizers and pesticides
  • Energy efficient systems and field operations

Accepting Applications

EQIP pplications are accepted through a continuous sign-up process. Sign-up is conducted at local USDA Service Centers. NRCS periodically announces cutoff dates when applications are ranked for funding. NRCS encourages customers to apply at any time. The first cut-off date to rank applications in 2014 is January 17, 2014. Any applications received after this date will be held until the next ranking cut-off which is set for April 18, 2014.

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.

Download NRCS conservation program application (PDF, 267KB)

2014 National EQIP Initiatives

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.

Seasonal High Tunnel Initiative: NRCS helps producers plan and implement high tunnels, which are, 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 426 high tunnels were planned for implementation in Kentucky through this Initiative since 2012. Please view the link to our Seasonal High Tunnel Brochure below for more information. Seasonal High Tunnel Brochure

Organic Initiative: NRCS helps certified organic growers and producers working to achieve organic certification install conservation practices for organic production. Organic payment rates have been established for qualifying practices and are included in the FY2014 EQIP Payment Schedule.

Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watershed Initiative (MRBI): Through the Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative (MRBI) the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and our partners work with producers and landowners to implement voluntary conservation practices that improve water quality, restore wetlands, enhance wildlife habitat and sustain agricultural profitability in selected focus watersheds in the Mississippi River Basin. The Kentucky MRBI Focus Watershed for 2014 is the Red River Watershed which takes in parts of Logan, Simpson and Todd Counties. Core and supporting practices offered through MRBI have been established in a partnership effort with the Kentucky Division of Conservation based on the natural resources being targeted in each watershed across the State. These core and supporting practices eligible for MRBI are included in the Kentucky EQIP Handbook.

National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI): 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.

2014 State EQIP Initiatives

Wildlife Initiative: The purpose of the Wildlife Initiative is to help participants develop fish and wildlife habitat on private agricultural land, nonindustrial private forest land and Indian land. NRCS provides technical and financial assistance to landowners and others to develop or enhance upland, wetland, riparian, and aquatic habitat areas on their property.

Forestland Initiative: The 2008 Farm Bill placed increased emphasis on non-industrial private forestland. The purpose of the Forestland Initiative is to focus on practices that will improve forest health; promote forest management; educate landusers; and create enhance, and protect forestland bird habitat.

Southeast Kentucky Early Successional Habitat Initiative:  

The purpose of the Southeast Kentucky Early Successional Habitat Initiative is to establish fish and wildlife habitat on private agricultural land and nonindustrial private forestland in a highly forested area of the State with a large potential for early successional habitat improvement. Many wildlife species either depend on or greatly benefit from areas of young forest in proximity to older more mature forest stands. However, early successional habitats are generally lacking within the initiative area. Emphasis will be placed on forest stand improvement practices with the objective of creating or maintaining early successional forest habitat to benefit a suite of wildlife species. This initiative is available in the following Kentucky counties: Bell, Breathitt, Clay, Elliott, Floyd, Harlan, Jackson, Johnson, Knott, Knox, Laurel, Lawrence, Lee, Leslie, Letcher, Magoffin, Martin, Morgan, Owsley, Perry, Pike, Rockcastle, Whitley, and Wolfe.

Applications for the National and State EQIP Initiatives will be evaluated during the ranking cut-off dates of January 17 and April 18, 2014.
 

Triplett Creek Watershed Initiative

This project is a multi-year partnership between the NRCS and the USFS to improve the health and resiliency of forest ecosystems across the nation. The Triplett Creek watershed area has had an increase in the occurrence of wildfires for the past 20 years.  Weather events have impacted the area as well causing a tree density that threatens the safety of firefighters.  A large part of the Triplett Creek Watershed is classified as Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) with private homes immediately adjacent to National Forest lands. 

The project will involve management of the private lands through the development of species specific canopy and creation of early successional habitat and edge feathering to benefit wildlife.  Timber stand improvement practices, woodland creation and grassland restoration will aid in restoring rare wildlife communities and improve the safety conditions for firefighters.  Project plans also include road maintenance in this area increasing firefighter and public access to the remote WUI areas. 

The deadline to apply for this initiative is July 18, 2014.  Click here for more information on the Triplett Creek Watershed Initiative.

Conservation Activity Plans Offered for 2014 EQIP

NRCSoffers financial assistance through EQIP for the development of plans appropriate for the eligible land of a program participant including comprehensive nutrient management plans (CNMP) and other plans that further the purposes of the program. These conservation plans are known as a “conservation activity plan” or CAP and must be written by a certified Technical Service Provider (TSP). A list of certified TSPs can be found on the USDA-NRCS Technical Services Provider website.

The following Conservation Activity Plans (CAP) will be offered in Kentucky for FY2014:

CAP Name

Code

Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan

102

Nutrient Management Plan

104

Forest Management Plan

106

Grazing Management Plan

110

Irrigation Water Management Plan

118

Conservation Plan Supporting Organic Transition

138

Drainage Water Management Plan

130

Integrated Pest Management Plan

114

Agricultural Energy Management Plan-Headquarters

122

Agricultural Energy Management Plan-Landscape

124

Fish and Wildlife Habitat Management Plan               

 142

Pollinator Habitat Enhancement Plan

 146

Feed Management Plan  108
Prescribed Burning Plan  112

 

Visit the National NRCS website for more information about Conservation Activity Plans

The following information is specific to EQIP in Kentucky:

Other Helpful links:  Links will open in new window

For More Information

Please contact NRCS at your local USDA Service Center

State Contact: 

Deena Wheby
Assistant State Conservationist for Programs
Phone 859-224-7403