From weather to pests, each American farmer faces a unique set of challenges. The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural and forestry producers to address natural resource concerns and deliver environmental benefits.
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How It Works
The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) provides technical and financial assistance to producers to address natural resource concerns and deliver environmental benefits such as improved water and air quality, conserved ground and surface water, increased soil health and reduced soil erosion and sedimentation, improved or created wildlife habitat, and mitigation against drought and increasing weather volatility.
This voluntary conservation program helps producers make conservation work for them. Together, NRCS and producers invest in solutions that conserve natural resources for the future while also improving agricultural operations.
Together, NRCS and producers invest in solutions that conserve natural resources for the future while improving agricultural operations. Some of these benefits include:
- Reduction of contamination from agricultural sources, such as animal feeding operations.
- Efficient utilization of nutrients, reducing input costs and reduction in nonpoint source pollution.
- Increased soil health to help mitigate against increasing weather volatility and improved drought resiliency.
How can EQIP help in Iowa?
Targeted EQIP financial assistance is available through general EQIP, and several other initiatives at the local level. These initiatives address priority natural resource concerns on the most vulnerable lands, target conservation assistance in high priority watersheds, or help stimulate the development and adoption of innovation and technology.
In addition to national priorities Iowa has identified the following priorities:
- Surface and subsurface water quality related to the presence of excessive nutrients and organics related to livestock production by animal feeding operations on open feedlots
- Plant condition and management to protect/improve pastureland, soil erosion control.
- Wildlife management to protect at risk wildlife species.
Who is eligible to apply for EQIP?
Agricultural producers and owners of non-industrial private forestland and Tribes are eligible to apply for EQIP. Eligible land includes cropland, rangeland, pastureland, non-industrial private forestland and other farm or ranch 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
Additional restrictions and program requirements may apply. If you decide to work with us, you will receive a one-on-one consultation from a local NRCS conservation planner to evaluate your current management system and conduct an assessment of natural resources on your land. The planner will work with you to develop a free conservation plan that addresses the identified resource concerns.
Decision Making Process for EQIP
Once you choose the conservation practices or activities that best fit your needs, and if your application is selected for funding, EQIP offers payments for implementing these practices on your land with the expectation that you will operate while maintaining the practices for the expected lifespan.
Iowa NRCS, through the state technical committee, requested and received input on resource concerns, practices needed to treat the resource concerns, financial incentives and EQIP implementation.
The State Technical Committee is a broad-based group of public and private agencies interested in natural resources protection, including agricultural commodity and agribusiness interests, federal, state and local agencies and environmental groups. The committee meets periodically to advise USDA-NRCS on the implementation of conservation programs in Iowa. Local work groups function similarly in each level of the Soil and Water Conservation District.
2023 EQIP Sign-Up
NRCS accepts applications for EQIP on a continuous basis. We announce signup cutoff deadlines as funds become available. For Fiscal Year 2023, the first application cutoff date for new EQIP contracts was Oct. 7, 2022. The second application cutoff for FY23 is March 17, 2023.
Special EQIP Programs and Initiatives
- EQIP Conservation Incentive Contracts
- Iowa Soil Health EQIP Initiative
- Source Water Protection (SWP)
- Prairie Pothole Water Quality and Wildlife Program
- Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative
- National Water Quality Initiative
- High Tunnel Initiative
- On-Farm Energy Initiative
- Organic Initiative
How to Apply
The best way to learn if EQIP is a good fit for you is by contacting your local NRCS office. If you choose to move forward, your local NRCS conservationist will guide you through applying for the program.
EQIP is open to all eligible agricultural producers and submitted applications may be considered or evaluated in multiple funding pool opportunities. Payment rates for conservation practices are reviewed and set each fiscal year.
Each district conservationist working with a local work group has established local resource concerns, practices, and an application ranking process to prioritize applications for funding. Applications for EQIP are accepted on a continuous basis. However, each locality has a cutoff date for ranking applications, the first of which is Oct. 7, 2022, for Fiscal Year 2023 applications. NRCS may establish local, minimum ranking cutoff levels for funding selection. Contact your local NRCS Field Office for additional information.
EQIP Application Materials
EQIP Fact Sheets
Iowa EQIP Popular Conservation Practices
Apply for Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)
The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers and non-industrial forest managers.Learn More
Historically Underserved Farmers and Ranchers
The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (2018 Farm Bill) includes provisions that address the unique circumstances and concerns of socially disadvantaged, beginning, limited resource, and veteran farmers and ranchers (“historically underserved producers”).Learn More
The 2018 Farm Bill was enacted on December 20, 2018. The Farm Bill continues its strong support for conservation efforts of America’s farmers and ranchers through reauthorization and expanded flexibility of NRCS conservation programs.Learn More
Ready to get started?
Contact your local service center to start your application.
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.
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 tract number.
If you don’t have a farm tract 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 tract 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.
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.