The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) is NRCS’ flagship conservation program that helps farmers, ranchers and forest landowners integrate conservation into working lands.
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.
EQIP in Montana
In Montana, NRCS uses a “Focused Conservation” strategy to guide its EQIP investments. Learn more about Montana Focused Conservation.
Targeted Implementation Plans (TIPs)
Targeted Implementation Plans are local-level EQIP initiatives used by NRCS in Montana to guide on-the-ground implementation of locally developed Long Range County Plans. See what's available in your county.
EQIP Initiatives Offered in Montana
Targeted EQIP financial assistance is available through general EQIP and several other initiatives. 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. The following initiatives are currently offered in Montana:
- Conservation Incentive Contracts
- Community Agriculture Initiative
- Joint Chiefs’ Landscape Restoration Partnership Projects
- Connecting Fuels Treatments in the Salish Mountains and Whitefish Range
- Elkhorn Cooperative Management Area
- Fire Adapted Bitterroot Project
- Gallatin Valley Forest Resiliency and Watershed Health Project
- Libby Surround Stewardship Project
- Migratory Bird Resurgence Initiative
- National Water Quality Initiative Projects
- Camp and Godfrey Creeks
- Shields River
- On-Farm Energy Initiative
- Organic Initiative
- Organic Transition Initiative
- Regional Conservation Partnership Program Projects
- Big Game Habitat Improvement Project
- Bitterroot Conservation Connectivity Project
- Flint Creek Valley Conservation Partnership Project
- Missouri Headwaters and Lower Gallatin Basin RCPP Project (Gallatin Valley Project)
- Northern Great Plains Grassland Conservation Project
- Upper Yellowstone Watershed Conservation RCPP Project
- Sage Grouse Initiative
- Targeted Implementation Plans - What's Available in My County?
When to Apply
Program applications are accepted on a continual basis. However, NRCS establishes application ranking dates for evaluation, ranking and approval of eligible applications. Applications received after the ranking date will be automatically deferred to the next funding period. See Montana Programs and Application Dates.
ACT NOW Information for NRCS Montana
ACT NOW allows NRCS to approve and obligate a ranked application in a designated ranking pool when an eligible application meets or exceeds a state-established minimum ranking score without waiting for all applications to be ranked and pre-approved in that ranking pool.
Applications selected through ACT NOW will be batched and processed in the order received. Applications eligible for the identified ACT NOW ranking pools will be accepted on a continuous sign-up basis through March 1, 2024, at which time the ACT NOW sign-up period will close. Applications that rank above 85 will be pre-approved as funds are available, except for Targeted Implementation Plans the threshold will be 50.
The FY2024 EQIP ACT NOW will utilize the following ranking pools in Montana:
- Socially Disadvantaged Producers (non-tribal)
- Camp and Godfrey Creeks and Shields River National Water Quality Initiatives
- On-Farm Energy Initiative
- Migratory Bird Resurgence Initiative
- Conservation Planning Activities (CPAs), Design and Implementation Activities (DIAs) and Conservation Evaluation and Monitoring Activities (CEMAs)
- Disaster Sign-ups
- Selected Targeted Implementation Plans (TIPs). Select the ACT NOW tab on the Montana Focused Conservation map to find eligible TIPs.
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.