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Environmental Quality Incentives Program

 

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Introduction

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.

Accepting Applications

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. 

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, and veterans were raised from 30 percent to 50 percent.
  • Payment limitations are set at $450,000 with no ability to waive.

Benefits

Eligible program participants receive financial and technical assistance to implement conservation practices, or activities like conservation planning, that address natural resource concerns on their land. Payments are made to participants after conservation practices and activities identified in an EQIP plan of operations are implemented. Contracts can last up to ten years in duration.

Eligibility

Agricultural producers and owners of non-industrial private forestland are eligible to apply for EQIP. Eligible land includes cropland, rangeland, pastureland, non-industrial private forestland and other farm or ranch lands.

Socially disadvantaged, beginning and limited resource farmers, and veterans are eligible for an increased payment rate and may receive advance payment of up to 50 percent to purchase materials and services needed to implement conservation practices included in their EQIP contract.

Applicants must:  

  • Be engaged in agriculture or forestry and have a farm number and tract established with the Farm Service Agency
  • Comply with adjusted gross income limitation (AGI)  provisions
  • Control or own eligible land
  • 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. 

How to Apply / Accepting Applications

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. 

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.

Decision Making Process for EQIP

Input from Outside Groups, Agencies, and Citizens: The list of eligible practices in North Carolina, payment rates and limits, eligible resource concerns, and state scoring criteria are developed based on input and recommendations from Landowners, Partners, and State Technical Committee (STC). The STC is made up of representatives from various agribusinesses, producer groups, conservation organizations, and federal, state, and tribal government agency representatives.

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. Starting a practice prior to written contract approval will result in the ineligibility of that practice for EQIP assistance

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.

North Carolina 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:

  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 in soil erosion and sedimentation from unacceptable levels on agricultural land
  4. Promotion of at-risk species habitat conservation including development and improvement of wildlife habitat
  5. 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 and

North Carolina 2015 EQIP Documents and Procedures

 

Sign-Up Application Deadlines for Pending Available Funding in 2015
Applicants can sign-up throughout the year, however funds will be made available for eligible applications during set-times throughout the year.

Sign-Up Period for Available Funds Date Comments
1st Cut-Off Period for Consideration of Available Funds January 16, 2015 Applicants signing an application by this date and with all required conservation planning prepared may be evaluated in this period. 
2nd Cut-Off Period for Consideration of Available Funds March 20, 2015

Applicants signing an application  after the Sign Up 1 and by this date that have all required conservation planning prepared may be evaluated in this period if funding allows.

3rd Cut-Off Period for Consideration of Available Funds May 15, 2015 Applicants signing up after Sign Up 2 and by this date that have all required conservation planning prepared may be evaluated in this period if funding allows.


When applying for EQIP , remember that your name, address, and social security number or Employer Identification Number (EIN) must match the information you have on file with the IRS and FSA, and the information provided on the Direct Deposit Form.  If you cannot recall your EIN and address used, call the IRS directly at 1-800-829-4933.  You should "Request confirmation of Employer Identification Number (EIN), IRS Letter 147C, EIN Previously Assigned.  The IRS can fax the letter to you, but you must remain on the line and have a separate open fax line to receive the fax.  The letter can be mailed. The requester will receive the IRS Letter 147C, in 7 to 10 business days.

State Resource Conservation Priorities and Principles

Resource Concern Landuse Principle Practices
Water Quality Degradation - Pathogens and Chemicals Headquarters Agrichemical Handling Facility, Animal Mortality Facility, Closure of Waste Impoundment, Composting Facility, Sediment Basin, Waste Storage Facility, Waste Transfer, Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure
Soil Erosion - Sheet, Rill and Wind Erosion Cropland Planting, Grassed Waterway, Long Term No-Till, Mulching, Residue Management, No-Till/Strip Till, Residue Management Seasonal, Conservation Plan Supporting Organic Transition Plan
Livestock Production Limitation - Inadequate feed and forage Pasture Brush Management, Forage and Biomass Planting, Forage Harvest Management, Integrated Pest Management, Nutrient Management, Prescribed Grazing, Grazing Management Plan
Water Quality Degradation - Pathogens and Chemicals Pasture Access Control, Animal Trails and Walkways, Controlled Livestock Lounging Area, Filter Strip, Heavy Use Area Protection, Prescribed Grazing, Riparian Forest Buffer, Riparian Herbaceous Cover, Stream Crossing
Water Quality Degradation - Nutrients Cropland Filter Strip, Nutrient Management, Riparian Forest Buffer, Riparian Herbaceous Cover, Sediment Basin, Stream bank and Shoreline Protection, Structure for Water Control, Tree/Shrub Establishment, Waste Utilization, CNMP
Inadequate Habitat for Wildlife - Habitat Degradation Cropland Riparian Forest Buffer, Riparian Herbaceous Cover, Shallow Water Development and Management, Tree/Shrub Establishment, Upland Wildlife Habitat Management, Wetland Restoration, Wetland Wildlife Habitat Management,
Inadequate Habitat for Wildlife - Habitat Degradation Forest Management of Rare and Declining Habitats, Stream Habitat Improvement and Management, Upland Wildlife Habitat Management, Wetland Restoration
Soil Erosion - Stream Bank Erosion Pasture Access Control, Channel Bank Vegetation, Critical Area Planting, Fence, Riparian Forest Buffer, Riparian Herbaceous Cover, Stream bank and Shoreline Protection
Soil Quality Degradation - Organic Matter Depletion Cropland Conservation Cover, Conservation Crop Rotation, Cover Crop, Long Term No-Till, Mulching, Nutrient Management, Residue Management, No-Till/Strip Till, Residue Management, Seasonal
Inefficient Water - Inefficient Use of Irrigation Water Cropland Cover Crop, Irrigation Land Leveling, Irrigation System, Microirrigation, Irrigation System, Sprinkler, Structure for Water Control, Irrigation Water Management Plan Criteria
Degraded Plant Condition - Excessive plant pest pressure Cropland Conservation Crop Rotation, Cover Crop, Integrated Pest Management, IPM-Herbicide Resistant Weeds Plan
Inefficient Water - Inefficient Use of Irrigation Water Headquarters Irrigation System, Sprinkler, Irrigation Water Management, Pipeline
Air Quality Impacts - Emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) Headquarters Anaerobic Digester, Closure of Waste Impoundment, Waste Facility Cover, Waste Management System
Degraded Plant Condition - Undesirable plant productivity and health Forest Forest Stand Improvement, Tree/Shrub Establishment, Forest Management Plan Criteria
Inefficient Energy Use - Equipment and facilities Headquarters Agriculture Energy Management Plan, HQ


Conservation Practice and Ranking Documents

Some of the following documents require Adobe Acrobat, Microsoft Word, or Microsoft Excel

2015 Ranking Pools and Ranking Criteria Overview
Ranking Pool Focus Area Ranking Description
Cropland Local Resource concerns associated with the cropland land use such as soil erosion and water quality would be ranked in this ranking pool.
Pasture Local Resource concerns associated with the pasture land use such as water quality and forage quality/quantity. 
Confined Animal Local Resource concerns associated with confined animal production systems such as swine, poultry, dairy and beef stocker operations.  Resource concerns associated with the headquarters would apply.  Resource concerns such as soil erosion, water quality are typical issues ranked in this pool.
Forestry Area Resource concerns associated with confined animal production systems such as swine, poultry, dairy and beef stocker operations.  Resource concerns associated with the headquarters would apply.  Resource concerns such as soil erosion, water quality are typical issues ranked in this pool.
Beginning Farmer Area This pool is designed for all land uses but with the emphasis on providing program assistance to beginning farmers.
Socially Disadvantaged Area This pool is designed for all land uses but with the emphasis on providing program assistance to our minority producers.
Seasonal High Tunnel Area

This pool is specifically for ranking applications by eligible producers interested in construction a seasonal high tunnel.

Irrigation Efficiency State Resource concerns for this pool are on the cropland land use where efficiency of the use of irrigation water is the goal.  Irrigation history is required and an irrigation system design is required in order to  contract improvements for micro irrigation or to a low pressure center pivot.
Agricultural Chemical Handling Facility State This pool is for those eligible producers with resource concerns related to pest management and chemical management.
Closure of Waste Impoundment

State

Resource concerns related to environmental risks associated with abandoned waste storage lagoons or ponds are ranked in this ranking pool.
Long Leaf Pine

State

This is a multi-state initiative associated with management and growth of the long leaf pine ecosystem.
Organic Certified State

Ranking pools exist for Certified Organic and those interested in Transitioning to Organic Certification.  Those selling product under an Exempt category may also apply.  Natural resource concerns associated with organic farms may be ranked in this pool.

Organic Transition State

Ranking pools exist for Certified Organic and those interested in Transitioning to Organic Certification.  Those selling product under an Exempt category may also apply.  Natural resource concerns associated with organic farms may be ranked in this pool.

On-Farm Energy State This is a National Initiative with the purpose of evaluating and identifying opportunities to save energy on the farm.  Opportunities exist for energy audits as well as implementing improvements identified in an approved audit.
Golden Winged Warbler State This is a wildlife habitat initiative focused on the high elevations (>2500 feet) where the habitat of the Golden Winged Warbler can be improved.
National Water Quality Initiative State This ranking opportunity exist in Surry County.  This initiatives purpose is to focus resources on relatively small watersheds with the idea to make remarkable differences in water quality over relatively short timeframes.  All landuses are applicable and as well as cropland and animal operations with water quality issues that may be resolved with program funds.
Associated Lands (Wildlife) State This initiative is focused on lands that are not managed as cropland, pasture or forestland but with the objectives of the landowner are wildlife habitat related.


Complete 2015 Ranking Criteria - Environmental Quality Incentives Program (PDF; 2.11 MB)
 

2015 EQIP Cost List
Description Year Program
On-Farm Energy 2015 EQIP Cost List
General 2015 EQIP Cost List
Long Leaf Pine and Golden Winged Warbler 2015 EQIP Cost List
National Water Quality Initiative 2015 EQIP Cost List
Organic 2015 EQIP Cost List
Seasonal High Tunnel for Cropping 2015 EQIP Cost List


North Carolina Forms

SF-1199A Direct Deposit Sign-up Form  

W-9 Tax Form - Request for Taxpayer Identification Number and Certification (fillable)  (PDF; 75 KB) (Last Modified 8/22/2007) 

Application Form NRCS-CPA-1200 (PDF; 95 KB) (Last Modified 2/2014)


More Information

EQIP Fact Sheet (PDF, 1.1MB)

For more information visit your local
USDA Service Center

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or www.nrcs.usda.gov/getstarted.

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Program Contact

Greg Walker, Assistant State Conservationist for Programs, 919-873-2104