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Environmental Quality Incentives Program

EQIP Environmental Quality Incentives Program

The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) was reauthorized by the 2014 Farm Bill to promote agricultural production, forest management, and environmental quality as compatible national goals and to optimize environmental benefits on eligible land with farmers and nonindustrial private forest land owners on a voluntary basis. 


Program Benefits and Practices

Through EQIP, NRCS provides technical and financial assistance to eligible individuals and entities to plan and install conservation practices that benefit soil, water, air, plants and animals. EQIP addresses natural resource concerns including improvement of water quality degradation, water conservation, reducing greenhouse gases, improving wildlife habitat, controlling invasive plant species, and on-farm energy conservation and efficiency.


Eligibility

EQIP is open to all eligible agricultural producers.  All applications must meet the criteria for both producer eligibility and land eligibility to be considered for funding. 

To be eligible to participate in EQIP:

1. An applicant must:

2. The land being offered into the program must be agricultural land, nonindustrial private forest land or other land on which agricultural products, livestock or forest-related products are produced.


How, when and where should you apply?

Contact your local NRCS field office for help in determining your eligibility for EQIP and instructions on how to submit the NRCS-CPA-1200 application form and other required documents.

See the EQIP Forms and Documents page to download required forms and other program documents.

You may apply for funding under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) at any time throughout the year by visiting your local NRCS field office. Beginning December 18, 2015, funding decisions will be made monthly and will continue until funds are exhausted.

A conservation plan must be completed before an application can be evaluated and ranked for funding.


Funding Pools

You may choose to compete in one or more statewide funding pools, based on the predominant land use and type of conservation project being proposed for funding. 

FUNDING POOL DESCRIPTION

Conservation Activity Plans

Hire an NRCS certified Technical Service Provider to develop one of the following management plans: 

  • Agricultural Energy Management Plan (128)
  • Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan (102)
  • Conservation Plan Supporting Organic Transition (138)
  • Drainage Water Management Plan (130)
  • Forest Management Plan (106)
  • Feed Management Plan (108)
  • Fish and Wildlife Habitat Management Plan (142)
  • Grazing Management Plan (110)
  • Nutrient Management Plan (104)
  • Integrated Pest Management Plan (114)
  • IPM Herbicide Resistance Weed Conservation Plan (154)
  • Irrigation water Management Plan (118)
  • Pollinator Habitat Plan (146)
  • Prescribed Burning Plan (112)

FY15 Certified Organic and Organic Transition

Applicants to the National Organic Initiative are limited to $20,000 per year, not to exceed a total of $80,000 over a 6-year period.

FY15 On-Farm Energy

Contract for an ag-energy management plan, or install energy conservation and efficiency practices such as insulation, greenhouse screens, root zone heat, HE hot water, plate coolers, variable speed drives, evaporators, and ventilation.

FY15 High Tunnels

Extend the growing season for high value crops by improving plant and soil quality and reducing nutrient and pesticide transport.  For 2015 EQIP and AMA, Massachusetts has a practice payment cap of $10,000.

Palmer River Watershed

National Water Quality Initiative - Palmer River Watershed - addressing agricultural sources of water quality degradation. 

Bog Turtle

National Working Lands for Wildlife Initiative – habitat creation or enhancement for the Bog Turtle. 

New England Cottontail

National Working Lands for Wildlife Initiative – habitat creation or enhancement for the New England Cottontail rabbit.

Wildlife Habitat

Habitat improvement goals include national or state priority actions (grassland restoration, pitch pine-scrub oak restoration, young forest-shrub-land restoration, pollinator habitat, aquatic organism passage, riparian buffer establishment); habitat for national or state listed species, or species with declining populations; and invasive plant species control.

Forestland

Forest health, soil health and water quality goals.  Prioritizing projects that create vertical and/or horizontal diversity, control invasive plant species, encourage desirable regeneration, or address erosion and water quality.

Cropland

Classic structural, vegetative and management practices addressing erosion and sedimentation, plant and soil management and water quality.  Includes practices such as nutrient and pest management, cover crop, crop rotation, filter strips and buffers, irrigation water, and residue management.

Farmstead

CNMP implementation of barnyard management practices addressing water quality issues through such practices as compost facility, waste storage structure, heavy use area, and runoff management.

Farmstead Milkhouse Waste

In cooperation with MA Dept. of Ag Resources pilot program, addressing approved treatment of milkhouse wastewater.

Pasture & Hayland

Practices addressing erosion control, brush and invasive plant species management, forage quality improvement, prescribed grazing and associated infrastructure.

HU - Beginning Farmer

All practices are available at an increased payment rate in a separate statewide funding pool.  Definition of Beginner Farmer is someone who has not operated a farm for more than 10 consecutive years.

HU - Indian, Tribal

All practices are available to Tribal Indians at an increased payment rate in a separate statewide funding pool. 

HU - Limited Resource

All practices are available at an increased payment rate in a separate statewide funding pool.  Definition of a Limited Resource Farmer is someone whose farm sales are less than $155,200 and has a total household income at or below the national poverty level for a family of four, or less than 50% of the county median household income in each of 2 previous years.

HU - Socially Disadvantaged

All practices are available at an increased payment rate in a separate statewide funding pool.  Definition of a Socially Disadvantaged Farmer  is someone who has been subjected to racial or ethnic prejudices because of their identity as a member of a group.


Payment Information

See this year's Payment Schedule posted on the EQIP Forms and Documents page.   Practice cost details can be found in the electronic Field Office Technical Guide.


Participant Responsibilities

Applicants are responsible for completing and filing all application and eligibility paperwork as required.  If funded, participants will sign a contract to install the planned conservation practices to NRCS standards and specifications as scheduled.

Starting a practice prior to written contract approval will result in the ineligibility of the practice for EQIP assistance, unless a waiver has been approved.


Historically Underserved Individuals and Groups

Historically underserved producers (limited resource farmers, beginning farmers, socially disadvantaged producers, Tribes and Veterans) may be eligible for increased practice payment rate to support implementation of conservation practices and conservation plans.

Historically underserved producers are also be eligible for advance payments up to 50 percent of the cost needed to purchase materials or contracting services to begin installation of approved conservation practices.


National priorities

The national priorities include soil quality, water quality and quantity, plants, energy, wildlife habitat, air quality, and related natural resource concerns:

  1. 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;
  2. Conservation of ground and surface water resources;
  3. 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;
  4. Reduction in soil erosion and sedimentation from unacceptable levels on agricultural land;
  5. Promotion of at-risk species habitat conservation including development and improvement of wildlife habitat; and
  6. 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.

State Priorities

Massachusetts top priorities include water quality and quantity, soil health, invasive plants, and wildlife habitat:

  1. Impaired waters (categories 5-4)
  2. Drinking water (groundwater zones 1-2; surface water zones a-b)
  3. Water conservation (stressed basins)
  4. Soil quality and soil health
  5. Invasive Plant Species
  6. At-risk-species habitat conservation