The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers and non-industrial forest managers to address natural resource concerns.
EQIP delivers 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.
How It Works
This voluntary conservation programs 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.
Through EQIP, NRCS provides agricultural producers and non-industrial forest managers with financial resources and one-on-one help to plan and implement improvements, or what NRCS calls conservation practices. Using these practices can lead to cleaner water and air, healthier soil and better wildlife habitat, all while improving agricultural operations. Through EQIP, you can voluntarily implement conservation practices, and NRCS co-invests in these practices with you.
To get started, NRCS first works one-on-one with you to develop a conservation plan that meets your goals and vision for the land. This becomes a roadmap for which conservation practices best meet your needs.
Financial assistance covers part of the costs from implementing conservation practices. NRCS offers about 200 practices depending on where your land is located. These practices are geared towards working farms, ranches and forests and provide producers with many options for conservation. See a list of practices.
The benefits of EQIP 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 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.
Applications are ranked, and if yours is funded, NRCS will offer you an EQIP contract to receive financial assistance for the cost of implementing practices. Payment rates for conservation practices are reviewed and set each fiscal year. More information on this process is available on our How Do I Apply webpage; new-to-NRCS producers will find specific guidance for establishing farm records (Farm & Tract Number), initiating the Highly Erodible Land and Wetland Compliance evaluation, updating Adjusted Gross Income, etc.
The national priorities include soil quality, water quality and quantity, plants, energy, wildlife habitat, air
quality, increased weather volatility, and related natural resource concerns:
- 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 ground water contamination;
- The reduction of contamination from agricultural sources, such as animal feeding operations;
- Conservation of ground and surface water resources, including improvement of irrigation efficiency;
- 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 the National AmbientAir Quality Standards;
- Reduction in soil erosion and sedimentation from unacceptable levels on eligible land;
- Promotion of at-risk species habitat conservation including development and improvement of wildlife
- 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.
Massachusetts top priorities include water quality and quantity, soil health, invasive plants, and wildlife habitat:
- Impaired waters (categories 5-4)
- Drinking water (groundwater zones 1-2; surface water zones a-b)
- Water conservation (stressed basins)
- Soil quality and soil health
- Invasive Plant Species
- At-risk-species habitat conservation
More information relating to the Environmental Quality Incentives Program in Massachusetts.
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.