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Environmental Quality Incentives Program - Idaho

EQIP

The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers and non-industrial forest managers to address natural resource concerns.

General Description

The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) is a voluntary program that provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers and non-industrial forest managers through contracts. These contracts provide financial assistance to help implement conservation practices that address natural resource concerns and for opportunities to improve soil, water, plant, animal, air and related resources on agricultural land and non-industrial private forestland.

How to Apply

The application process is a continuous process. Those who are interested should work with their local NRCS office to identify and plan the conservation measures needed to address the resource concern identified on their land.

When applying for EQIP, schedule a meeting with NRCS to discuss your options before moving forward. Local NRCS conservationists will help you develop a conservation plan, identify conservation measures and pursue funding through one of the EQIP fund pool options available in Idaho. Those who have previously developed a conservation plan with NRCS could already have the conservation planning step completed.

Eligible applicants may apply for EQIP by completing the CCC-1200 EQIP application form (see below) and all other eligibility forms can be obtained at the local USDA Service Center Locator.

For more information about EQIP, how to apply and program eligibility requirements, interested applicants should contact a NRCS field office in the county which you own land or where you have an agricultural operation.

Click here for Resource Concerns

Accepting Applications

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 conservation practice prior to written contract approval will result in the ineligibility of that practice for EQIP assistance unless a waiver has been approved (see CPM 440, Part 530.23).

Applications are accepted, from all eligible agricultural producers or non-industrial private forest landowners, on a continuous basis throughout the year. Applications for assistance for fiscal year 2024 must be submitted by October 6, 2023 to be eligible to receive an award assistance in 2024 for general EQIP funding.  Specific EQIP ranking pools have an application date of April 5, 2024 which include the Working Lands for Wildlife Sage Grouse Initiative, Cheatgrass Challenge, and Water Conservation for water management entities and group projects.  Applications for an ACT NOW ranking pool will be accepted continuously until April 5, 2024.

EQIP is open to all eligible agricultural producers without discrimination or bias.

ACT NOW – Allows certain types of applications to be preapproved and contracted under an accelerated timeline. Once Eligibility is met and ranking becomes available, NRCS will complete the inventory, a conservation plan and will rank the application within 75 days.  If the application ranking score is above the minimum threshold established for the ranking pool, it will be preapproved as funds are available.  Contracts will be developed by the local field office with 30 days of preapproval and will be forwarded to the State office for obligation.  NRCS will have 2 batching periods.  This process will result in faster implementation of practices for customers.

Each ranking pool will be preapproved weekly and any application above the ranking threshold will move forward with a contract as funding remains available in the pool.  ACT NOW pools will have 2 batching periods.  The first batching period will end on February 23rd and if funds remain in the ranking pool additional applications will move forward with a contract at that time. Once the first batching has closed, the State Conservationist may adjust the funding amounts based on needs within ranking pools. Funding within pools may be increased if there is a demand and if Idaho has the necessary funding.  

The following FY 2024 EQIP ranking pools will follow ACT NOW timelines and have the established funding level and ranking thresholds.

Eligibility

Agricultural producers, subsistence landowners, non-industrial private forestland and Indian tribes, and water management entities 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, Indian tribes, 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.

Important Information Regarding FSA Eligibility

FSA offices can be found by visiting the USDA Service Center Locator to find the NRCS and FSA representatives for your county.

Although applications are accepted on a year-round basis, eligible producers and entities interested in EQIP Classic must meet the following eligibility requirements by December 1, 2023 to be considered for funding in fiscal year 2024.

(Note: Water Management Entities must submit a project description by January 19th, 2024 to be considered for the water conservation fund pool for 2024.   Projects will be reviewed by an NRCS team of experts to determine if the project fits under EQIP or if another NRCS program is better suited. Approved projects will have until April 5th, 2024 to submit an EQIP application.

  • Attain all necessary FSA eligibility determinations (AD-1026, AGI, FTE, 902), and
  • Submit their CCC-1200 EQIP application to their local NRCS office

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
  • Have an identifiable Resource Concern on the offered land unit(s)
  • Work with NRCS to develop an NRCS EQIP plan of operations to improve the identified Resource Concern(s)

Program Payments and Payment Rates

For State Payment Rates, see  fy24-idaho-eqip.pdf (usda.gov)

EQIP Initiatives

  • General EQIP Incentives - Provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers through contracts to help plan and implement conservation practices that address natural resource concerns and for opportunities to improve soil, water, plant, animal, air and related resources on agricultural land and non-industrial private forestland.

National Initiatives

  • On-Farm Energy Initiative - Enables the producer to identify ways to conserve energy on the farm through development of Agricultural Energy Management Plans (AgEMP) also known as an on-farm energy audit; and by providing financial and technical assistance to help the producer implement various conservation practices recommended in these on-farm energy audits.
     
  • Organic Initiative - Provides financial assistance to help implement conservation practices for organic producers and those transitioning to organic to address natural resource concerns.
     
  • Working Lands for Wildlife-Sage Grouse Initiative - Focuses on making measurable and significant progress toward treating a specific threat to sage-grouse on private lands through strategic use of conservation programs.
     
  • Working Lands for Wildlife-Idaho Migratory Big Game Initiative - Focuses on maintaining and improving landscape diversity for various seasonal habitats as required by migratory big game animals.
     
  • National Water Quality Initiative - Provide technical and financial assistance and planning tools to help farmers and ranchers determine which conservation actions will provide the best results to improve water quality on their land.  Funding is limited to watersheds with approved implementation plans.
     
  • National Air Quality Initiative – Provides technical and financial assistance to applicants who improve an air quality resource concern in one of three categories: 
  • Dairy/Animal Feeding Operation (AFO)/Confined Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO)
  • Wildfire prevention for forestland and rangeland 
  • Wind erosion vulnerability areas
     
  • WaterSMART-Provides financial and technical assistance to eligible applicants who are in a priority area identified with an approved proposal. Proposals are solicited once per year for eligible project areas and may be awarded funding for up to 5 years.  
     
  • Beginning Farmer or Rancher - Provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers who meet the Beginning Farmer or Rancher criteria through contracts to help plan and implement conservation practices that address natural resource concerns and for opportunities to improve soil, water, plant, animal, air and related resources on agricultural land and non-industrial private forestland.  This includes both Irrigated and Non-irrigated land. 
     
  • Socially Disadvantaged Farmer or Rancher - Provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers who meet the Socially Disadvantaged criteria through contracts to help plan and implement conservation practices that address natural resource concerns and for opportunities to improve soil, water, plant, animal, air and related resources on agricultural land and non-industrial private forestland.
     
  • Joint Chiefs - Provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers, and other landowners to implement conservation practices in a National Approved targeted area.
    • Wood River Valley Forest Health and Wildfire Resilience Program
    • Scattered Lands and Hazardous Fuels
    • South Teton Valley Hazardous Fuels Removal
       

State Fund Pools

  • Dairy/AFO/CAFO - Provides financial and technical assistance to addresses resource concerns related to AFO/CAFO or dairies. 
     
  • Cheatgrass ChallengeProvides financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers, and other landowners for the purpose of implementing conservation practices that will help control cheatgrass and other noxious weeds.
     
  • Water Conservation (Water Management Entities) - Provides financial assistance to help implement conservation practices for Water Management Entities to address water conservation projects.
     
  • CPA/DIA/CEMA - Complete a Conservation planning activity (CPA), Design and Implementation Activity (DIA), or a Conservation Evaluation and Monitoring Activity (CEMA).
     
  • Disaster Relief * - Provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers, and other landowners to implement conservation practices that need to be installed immediately if they were affected by a natural disaster such as wildfire or floods.
     
  • LWG Team Ranking Pools 1-17 - Provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers through contracts to help plan and implement conservation practices that address natural resource concerns and for opportunities to improve soil, water, plant, animal, air and related resources on agricultural land and non-industrial private forestland.  Priorities and Resource Concerns are decided at the local Team level.
     

Ranking Process

The State Conservationist, in consultation with the State Technical Committee has developed ranking criteria to prioritize and subsequently fund applications addressing priority natural resource concerns in Idaho. These priorities for EQIP funding are established locally and at the state level, based on locally identified natural resource needs consistent with state and national EQIP priorities. Local Work Groups convened by local Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs) provide advice to NRCS about natural resource issues and priorities within their counties which make up a Team. EQIP applications are evaluated based on these Team priorities and then prioritized for funding. These decisions are based on an evaluation process that includes application screening and ranking criteria. NRCS uses the Conservation Assessment Ranking Tool (CART) to assess the site vulnerability, existing conditions, and identify potential resource concerns on a unit of land. After CART assessment, NRCS uses CART Ranking to evaluate an application in all applicable funding pools.

* Immediate Installation Needs for Participants Affected by Wildfire and Seeking Assistance in the Natural Disaster Fund Pool -- EARLY START WAIVER Process

Participants needing to install conservation practices to protect a resource, alleviate significant environmental problems, or prevent endangerment to life and property should request an Early Start Waiver to the State Conservationist of Idaho NRCS. The applicant must not start the conservation practice or activity prior to approval of the waiver.

The participant must request an Early Start Waiver in writing by either email or written letter. The written request must state what conservation practice(s) the participant needs to install before the contract is awarded. Submit your written request to your local NRCS field office and it will be forwarded onto the State Conservationist.

NRCS must inform applicants that -

  1. Prior to approval the application must be in Pre-Approved Status
  2. Approved waiver does not guarantee contract approval;
  3. Conservation practices or activities must meet NRCS standards and specifications; and
  4. Applicant must maintain Farm Service Agency eligibility, or the applicant will be ineligible to receive payments.
  5. Payment will not be issued for conservation practices installed until the contract is obligated.
  6. Conservation practices or activities completed prior to contract obligation but after the waiver has expired are not eligible for payment.

NRCS and the participant must complete these actions before the State Conservationist will approve Early Start Waiver - 

  1. Submit completed CCC-1200 EQIP application form (see below) and entered into Protracts.
  2. Conservation plan map and plan signed by the Designated Conservationist and Participant.
  3. Engineering design and/or conservation practices job sheet(s) signed by appropriate NRCS staff with job approval authority and Participant for all conservation practices requested in Early Start Waiver.
  4. CPA-52 document signed by Conservation Planner and Designated Conservationist.
  5. Completed Cultural Resources review.


Idaho EQIP Contacts

Local: 

Please contact the Conservation Team Leader in the USDA Service Center nearest the location of your property.

Idaho EQIP Program Manager:

Lindsay Markegard, State EQIP Program Manager
Natural Resources Conservation Service 

Additional Information

Ready to get started?

Contact your local service center to start your application.

Find Your Local Service Center

USDA Service Centers are locations where you can connect with Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service, or Rural Development employees for your business needs. Enter your state and county below to find your local service center and agency offices. If this locator does not work in your browser, please visit offices.usda.gov.

How to Get Assistance

Do you farm or ranch and want to make improvements to the land that you own or lease?

Natural Resources Conservation Service offers technical and financial assistance to help farmers, ranchers and forest landowners.

how to get started

To get started with NRCS, we recommend you stop by your local NRCS field office. We’ll discuss your vision for your land.

NRCS provides landowners with free technical assistance, or advice, for their land. Common technical assistance includes: resource assessment, practice design and resource monitoring. Your conservation planner will help you determine if financial assistance is right for you.

We’ll walk you through the application process. To get started on applying for financial assistance, we’ll work with you:

  • To fill out an AD 1026, which ensures a conservation plan is in place before lands with highly erodible soils are farmed. It also ensures that identified wetland areas are protected.
  • To meet other eligibility certifications.

Once complete, we’ll work with you on the application, or CPA 1200.

Applications for most programs are accepted on a continuous basis, but they’re considered for funding in different ranking periods. Be sure to ask your local NRCS district conservationist about the deadline for the ranking period to ensure you turn in your application in time.

As part of the application process, we’ll check to see if you are eligible. To do this, you’ll need to bring:

  • An official tax ID (Social Security number or an employer ID)
  • A property deed or lease agreement to show you have control of the property; and
  • A farm number.

If you don’t have a farm number, you can get one from USDA’s Farm Service Agency. Typically, the local FSA office is located in the same building as the local NRCS office. You only need a farm number if you’re interested in financial assistance.

NRCS will take a look at the applications and rank them according to local resource concerns, the amount of conservation benefits the work will provide and the needs of applicants. View Application Ranking Dates by State.

If you’re selected, you can choose whether to sign the contract for the work to be done.

Once you sign the contract, you’ll be provided standards and specifications for completing the practice or practices, and then you will have a specified amount of time to implement. Once the work is implemented and inspected, you’ll be paid the rate of compensation for the work if it meets NRCS standards and specifications.