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Environmental Quality Incentives Program

EQIP General Program Description

The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) is a voluntary conservation program administered by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. It supports production agriculture and environmental quality as compatible goals. Through EQIP, farmers, ranchers, private forest land owners and Federally-recognized American Indian tribes may receive financial and technical assistance to implement structural and land management conservation practices on eligible agricultural land.

Eligibility

Individuals engaged in livestock, crop or forest production are eligible to apply. Eligible land includes cropland, rangeland, pasture, and private non-industrial forestland.

Applicants must:  

  • 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

    Additional restrictions and program requirements may apply. 

Program Priorities

State priorities are developed annually from input from local workgroups based on county resource assessments and individual plans to address those local needs. A State Technical Committee comprised of representation from these local work groups, Tribal groups, commodity groups, and conservation partners advise NRCS on the implementation of EQIP.

EQIP activities are carried out according to a site specific conservation plan developed in conjunction with the producer. All conservation practices are installed according to NRCS technical standards. Producers may elect to use an approved technical service provider for technical assistance.

 

Applying for EQIP

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 submitted applications may be considered or evaluated in multiple funding pool opportunities.

To learn how to get started with NRCS, visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/getstarted or visit your local NRCS field office.

Participant Responsibilities

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.

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.

Michigan 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.

NRCS National Outreach and Advocacy Web page

Interim Final Rule for EQIP
Environmental Quality Incentives Program "At a glance"

EQIP Initiatives

Conservation Activity Plans
Honeybee Initiative
On-Farm Energy Initiative
National Water Quality Initiative
Organic Initiative

2015 EQIP General Program Description Documents
How EQIP Works in Michigan
EQIP Funding Pools Map
EQIP Funding Pools Text Version
How to Apply for EQIP Forest Management Plans
How to Apply for EQIP Forest Management Plans (Spanish)
Frequently Asked Questions about the Seasonal High Tunnel Practice
Frequently Asked Questions about Assistance for Organic Producers

Fiscal Year 2015 Eligible Practices and Payment Schedules
Eligible Practices and Payment Schedule
Conservation Activity Plan Payment Rates

Fiscal Year 2014 Eligible Practices and Payment Schedules
Animal Waste
Conservation Activity Plans
Energy
Locally-Led Conservation: MAEAP
National Water Quality Initiative
Organic Initiative
American Indian Tribes
Water Quality Monitoring
Wayne County Seasonal High Tunnel Initiative
*Socially Disadvantaged, Beginning, and Limited Resource Farmers/Ranchers - NRCS definition

Forms
Conservation Program Application (NRCS-CPA-1200)

Conservation Activity Plans

A Conservation Activity Plan (CAP) identifies conservation practices to address specific natural resource needs.  Typically, these plans are specific to land uses, such as grazing land or forestland.  Other types of CAPs focus on addressing a specific resource need, such as nutrient management or integrated pest management.  A producer can apply for financial assistance to help pay for a conservation professional to develop a CAP. After a CAP is completed the producer can apply for financial assistance to implement the conservation practices recommended in the CAP.  Applications for CAP funding in Michigan must be submitted by Friday, December 19, 2014, to be included in the initial selection for Fiscal Year 2015 funds.

Below is a list of CAPs available through EQIP in fiscal year 2015. 

Practice Code

Conservation Activity Plan Name

102

Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan

104

Nutrient Management Plan

106

Forest Management Plan

108

Feed Management Plan

110

Grazing Management Plan

112

Prescribed Burning Plan

114

Integrated Pest Management

118

Irrigation Water Management Plan

128

Agriculture Energy Management Plan

 (Available through the On-Farm Energy Initiative)

130

Drainage Water Management Plan

138

Conservation Plan Supporting Organic Transition

 (Available through the Organic Inititiative)

142

Fish and Wildlife Habitat Plan

146

Pollinator Habitat Plan

154

IPM Herbicide Resistant Weed Conservation Plan

National Conservation Activity Plans Web page

On-Farm Energy Initiative

The On-Farm Energy Initiative is designed to assist producers 1) in identifying ways to conserve energy through the development of Agricultural Energy Management Plans, also known as on-farm energy audits; and 2) by providing financial and technical assistance to help the producer implement various conservation practices recommended in these on-farm energy audits.  Applications for On-Farm Energy Initiative funds in Michigan must be submitted by Friday, December 19, 2014, to be included in the initial selection for Fiscal Year 2015 funds.

National Water Quality Initiative

Applications for the National Water Quality Initiative will have the same cut-off date as EQIP, March 21, 2014. NWQI funds for conservation practices that improve water quality are available to producers in designated watersheds in southwest Michigan.

National Water Quality Initiative Program Web page

Organic Initiative

Through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) National Organic Initiative, NRCS provides financial and technical assistance to help eligible producers plan and implement conservation practices to support the environmental sustainability of their organic operation or agricultural operation transitioning to organic production. 

The 2015 Organic Initiative provides financial assistance to implement a broad set of conservation practices to assist organic producers in addressing resource concerns. Projects under this initiative may include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Developing a conservation plan
  • Establishing buffer zones
  • Planning and installing pollinator habitat
  • Improving soil quality and organic matter while minimizing erosion
  • Developing a grazing plan and supportive livestock practices
  • Improving irrigation efficiency
  • Enhancing cropping rotations and nutrient management

Financial assistance is limited to totals of a maximum of $20,000 per fiscal year AND no more than $80,000 over six years. 

Applicants must meet all eligibility requirements associated with EQIP in addition to being a certified organic producer, a producer who is transitioning to become certified organic, or a producer who falls under the exemption category in the National Organic Program (NOP) regulation, as described below.

  • Certified organic producers must provide NRCS with a copy of their USDA NOP organic certificate or proof of good standing from a USDA-accredited certifying agent; certification must be maintained for the life of the contract.
  • Exempt producers who are selling less than $5,000 a year in organic agricultural products are exempt from NOP’s certification. Exempt organic producers are eligible for the EQIP Organic Initiative provided that they self-certify that they agree to develop and implement an Organic System Plan (OSP). 
  • Transitioning to organic producers must self-certify that they agree to develop and implement an OSP.

Applications for National Organic Initiative funds in Michigan must be submitted by Friday, December 19, 2014, to be included in the initial selection for Fiscal Year 2015 funds.

Organic Initiative Frequently Asked Questions
National NRCS Organic Initiative Web page

Honeybee Initiative 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will provide close to $4 million in technical and financial assistance for interested farmers and ranchers to help improve the health of bees, which play an important role in crop production. The funding is a focused investment to improve pollinator health and will be targeted in five Midwestern states, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. Applications must be submitted by Nov. 21, 2014 to be considered for funding.

Michigan Honeybee Initiative Fact Sheet

Contact

To apply for EQIP, contact your local USDA Service Center. 
Michigan Field Office Directory

For general questions about EQIP contact the Michigan NRCS EQIP Coordinator.

Becky Otto, Acting EQIP Coordinator
Phone:  (517) 324-5257
E-mail: becky.otto@mi.usda.gov