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Environmental Quality Incentives Program

Environmental Quality Incentives Program

The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) is a voluntary conservation program that supports production agriculture and environmental quality as compatible goals. It provides financial and technical assistance to farmers and ranchers who install conservation practices that address natural resource concerns on agricultural lands.  

Farmers and ranchers can apply for financial assistance for many types of structural and management conservation practices, which address the following priority resource concerns identified by the State Technical Advisory Committee and the Local Work Groups:

  • Animal Waste from Confined Livestock Operations
  • Sedimentation from Accelerated Erosion
  • Noxious Weeds
  • Insufficient Water Supply for Livestock or Irrigation
  • Pesticide or Nutrient Contamination of Ground or Surface Waters
  • At-Risk Species Habitat
  • Invasive Species (Coqui Frog, Little Fire Ant, Nettle Caterpillar)
  • Ground and Surface Water Conservation

Pacific Islands Area EQIP Initiatives

Resource inventories developed by Local Working Groups (LWGs) to address primary resource concerns such as livestock, water quality, erosion reduction and habitat improvement identified the following priorities:

  • National On-Farm Energy Initiative (NOFEI) - NRCS will help producers identify ways to conserve energy on their farms through an Agricultural Energy Management Plan (AgEMP) conservation activity plan (CAP) or on-farm energy audit, and help producers implement energy audit recommendations by applying NRCS conservation practices to improve energy efficiency.
  • National Organic Initiative (NOI) - NRCS will help eligible producers (certified organic producers and producers who are transitioning to become certified organic) install conservation practices on organic agricultural operations. Resource concerns to be addressed include: Soil condition, Soil erosion, Water quality (nutrients, organics, sediment, pathogens and temperature), Water quantity, Domestic animals (inadequate feed, forage, water & shelter), Plant condition, and Fish & wildlife (inadequate cover/shelter, threatened & endangered species).
  • National Seasonal High Tunnel Initiative (NSHTI) - NRCS will help producers extend their growing season for high value crops in an environmentally-safe manner. The initiative can help producers address a resource concern (sheet & rill erosion; soil organic matter depletion; harmful nutrients, organics & pesticides in surface waters; poor plant condition) by improving plant quality, improving soil quality, and reducing nutrient and pesticide transport.
  • Coral Reef Initiative - NRCS will help producers reduce nonpoint source pollutants (nutrients, sediment, or pesticides) in impaired watersheds, reducing groundwater contamination, and conserving ground and surface water resources, through comprehensive nutrient management and integrated pest management plans.
  • National Water Quality Initiative – Hilo Bay (NWQI) – NRCS will help producers address high-priority water quality resource concerns in nine selected watershed in Hawaii County on cropland, forestland, grazed lands and animal feeding operations. Eligible producers will receive assistance for installing conservation systems that may include practices such as waste treatment facilities, nutrient management, cover crops, conservation cropping systems, filter strips, terraces, and in some cases, edge-of-field water quality monitoring.

EQIP Eligibility Requirements

Any private landowner or lease holder engaged in livestock or crop production on eligible land (such as croplands, pasture and hayland, rangeland, private non-industrial forestland) may apply for EQIP.

Payment Schedules

EQIP provides payment up to 75 percent based on regionally-developed pay schedules for certain conservation practices. Limited resource producers and beginning farmers and historically underserved customers may be eligible for payments up to 90 percent (Check out the Limited Resource Farmer and Beginning Farmer Tool to see if you qualify). Program participants may elect to use a certified Technical Service Provider (TSP) for technical assistance. Select Pacific Islands Area on the Technical Service Providers Map to find a certified provider.

The maximum an individual or entity may receive, directly or indirectly, is $300,000 for all EQIP contracts during the term of the Farm Bill. Highest priority will be given to applications that provide the most environmental benefit.

2014 EQIP Conservation Signup and Application Documents

Interested agricultural producers in Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, Tinian, Saipan or Rota may apply in person at any USDA Service Center. Applicants may also request EQIP assistance by telephone, FAX, e-mail, or letter. The FY 2014 EQIP application period is continuous throughout the year. Applications will be processed on a first-come, first-served basis. A signed application form CCC-1200 (see below) must be submitted to be considered for fiscal year 2014 funds. Application forms and additional signup information can be obtained from your local USDA Service Center or NRCS Field Office.

Visit the USDA Service Center eForms Web Site for instructions and information.

Forms Needed to Sign Up for EQIP:

NRCS-CPA-1200, Conservation Program Application & Appendix (PDF; 115 KB)

Application Ranking and Selection Process

Applications for EQIP are accepted on a continuous basis, however, NRCS establishes application "cut-off" or submission deadline dates for evaluation and ranking of eligible applications. Once an application is received by NRCS:

  1. NRCS will contact the applicant to conduct an evaluation and ranking of the application.
  2. The application will be ranked against all of the other applications within Pacific Island Area fund pools.
  3. NRCS will notify the applicant in writing of program eligibility or ineligibility, application deferral, or pre-approval for contract development.
  4. If selected for funding, the contract development process will be initiated.

Applicants selected for funding are not authorized to begin the installation of a conservation practice until they have a CCC-1202 Conservation Program Contract, signed by a CCC representative (NRCS Assistant Director for Field Office Operations) conservation plan, with approved job sheets and designs, and any required permits..

The Ranking Templates used to rank EQIP applications include questions that address various resource concerns and range from Water Quality and Water Quantity to Soil Erosion and Plant/Animal Health. Once all applications have been ranked the allocation process will begin from the highest scoring applications to a set minimum threshold or until all funds have been exhausted.

IMPORTANT EQIP INFORMATION FOR PRODUCERS

  • At least one contracted practice must be started within the first 12 months after contract is obligated by NRCS.
  • An EQIP contract stays with the land. Therefore, to prevent the possibility of contract penalties such as liquidated damages and / or cost recovery resulting from loss of control of the land due to land sale, the participant must acquire a Successor-In-Interest, through proper documentation, to transfer the contract to the new land owner.

Conservation Practices

Several practices are included in the program to address resource concerns. Among them are: waste storage facilities, manure transfer, watering facilities for livestock, rotational grazing systems, irrigation systems, erosion control measures such as grassed, waterways, filter strips, contour farming, buffers, and wildlife habitat. Conservation Practices must meet NRCS technical standards. The participant will receive assistance for the planning and implementation of the conservation practices. Pacific Islands Area approved practices for Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, Saipan, Tinian or Rota may be obtained from your local USDA Service Center or NRCS Field Office.

Local Participation and Work Groups

NRCS supports locally-led conservation in the delivery of conservation programs. The USDA Local Work Group serves as the starting point in the development and coordination of programs to provide an integral approach for addressing local natural resource concerns. The Local Working Group ensures that the conservation needs assessment is developed using community stakeholder input. Utilizing the assessment process, the Local Working Group identifies resource concerns, recommends practices, priorities, local costs of materials and labor, and funding needs.

For More Information

For more information please contact the Assistant Directors for the Pacific Islands Area. You may also contact your local USDA Service Center or NRCS Field Office or visit the National NRCS website at: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/ for more information.


Pacific Islands Area (PI) EQIP Contacts

Shirley Nakamura
Assistant Director for Programs
Phone: (808) 541-2600 x 112
Email: Shirley.Nakamura@hi.usda.gov