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 including operators of non-industrial private forestland, or landowners of these lands. Submitted applications may be considered or evaluated in multiple funding pool opportunities.
For information on RCPP-EQIP opportunities, go to the RCPP page.
Agricultural producers and owners of non-industrial private forestland are eligible to apply for EQIP. Eligible land includes cropland, pastureland, non-industrial private forestland and other farm lands.
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
Starting a practice or engaging the services of a Technical Service Provider (TSP) before a contract is finalized makes that practice or service ineligible for reimbursement by NRCS, unless a written waiver has been approved.
Additional restrictions and program requirements may apply.
Applicants are responsible for completing and filing all application and eligibility paperwork as required. If approved for funding, participants 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.
Pennsylvania 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 non-point 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 and
Biological carbon storage and sequestration
In addition, Pennsylvania has identified the following priorities:
Livestock: address natural resource concerns related to storage, treatment, and management of animal waste.
Cropland: assist producers with resource concerns on cropland such as soil quality, erosion control, and with water conservation on irrigated cropland.
Water Quality: assist producers with installing conservation practices such as Waste Storage Structures, Heavy Use Area Protection, Riparian Buffers, Cover Crops, Filter strips and Waterways to address phosphorus, bacteria, and sediment impairments which may be caused by soil erosion, exposed soil, and lack of riparian buffers and filter strips.
Erosion control: producers with non-industrial private forestland may receive financial assistance to develop a forest stewardship plan or to implement practices within an approved forest stewardship plan.
Wildlife habitat enhancement: Pennsylvania targets Golden Winged Warbler and Bog Turtle Habitat improvements to reverse the decline and benefit other species with similar habitat needs.
(For information on RCPP-EQIP opportunities, go to the RCPP page.)
Fiscal Year 2016 EQIP Deadlines
Applications submitted by October 16, 2015 will be evaluated to be considered for funding in fiscal year 2016. Applications received after that date will be accepted and evaluated for future rounds of funding.
Pennsylvania EQIP Funding Pools and Ranking Documents
Pennsylvania Funding Pools
The primary focus of the General EQIP funding pool is to address soil erosion and water quality resource concerns on cropland and adjacent incidental areas. The funding pool is managed on an area-wide basis, so applicants within an NRCS Area are competing against each other.
The Forest Management Implementation (FMI) statewide funding pool is for producers with non-industrial private forestland. The goal of the ranking is to address resource issues where forest-related products are produced. A separate fund pool/subaccount has been established for applications requesting funding to develop a Forest Management Plan.
The Grazing Land funding pool is available to applicants statewide that graze livestock. The program is to address natural resource concerns on operations involving the production, growing, raising, or reproducing of livestock.
This funding pool provides financial assistance for development of either Comprehensive Nutrient Management (CNMP) or Nutrient Management Plans (NMP) by a private consultant/Technical Service Provider (TSP). CNMP plans are required in order to receive EQIP funding for animal waste storage or treatment practices.
A priority of EQIP is for the promotion of at-risk species habitat conservation. The Wildlife Habitat Conservation funding pool is available to Pennsylvania producers who will restore, develop, or enhance wildlife habitat.
EQIP funding is available for the development of a Conservation Activity Plan (CAP). A CAP can be developed for producers to identify conservation practices needed to address a specific natural resource need. Typically, these plans are specific to certain kinds of land use such as transitioning to organic operations, grazing land, forest land, or can also address a specific resource need such a plan for management of nutrients.
The Organic Initiative provides financial assistance to help implement conservation practices for organic producers or those transitioning to organic. The Initiative addresses natural resource concerns and also helps growers meet requirements related to National Organic Program (NOP) requirements. Within the initiative, there is a subaccount for producers Transitioning to Organic production, and for producers who already have land that is Certified Organic.
The purpose of the High Tunnel System Initiative is to assist producers to extend the growing season for high value crops in an environmentally safe manner on existing cropland. The practice has the potential to assist producers to address resource concerns by improving plant quality, improving soil quality, and reducing nutrient and pesticide transport.
This initiative will enable private landowners in Pennsylvania to create and enhance approximately 10,000 acres of early successional forest habitat over five years, precluding the need to federally list the golden-winged warbler.
The On-Farm Energy Initiative enables the producer to identify ways to conserve energy on the farm through two types of Agricultural Energy Management Plans (AgEMP) for headquarters and/or for landscape, also known as an on-farm energy audit (headquarters and/or landscape); and by providing financial and technical assistance to help the producer implement various measures and practices recommended in these on-farm energy audits.