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Environmental Quality Incentives Program - Rhode Island

EQIP
Apply by: March 15, 2024

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

EQIP provides technical and financial assistance to agricultural producers and forest landowners to address natural resource concerns, such as:

  • Improved water and air quality;
  • Conserved ground and surface water;
  • Increased soil health ;
  • Reduced soil erosion and sedimentation;
  • Improved or created wildlife habitat; and
  • Mitigation against drought and increasing weather volatility.

How It Works

NRCS works one-on-one with producers to develop a conservation plan that outlines conservation practices and activities to help solve on-farm resource issues. Producers implement practices and activities in their conservation plan that can lead to cleaner water and air, healthier soil and better wildlife habitat, all while improving their agricultural operations. EQIP helps producers make conservation work for them. Financial assistance for practices may be available through EQIP.  Some producers may also qualify for advance payment.

Benefits

Some of these benefits include:

  • Reduced contamination from agricultural sources, such as animal feeding operations.
  • Efficient use of nutrients, reducing input costs and reduction in nonpoint source pollution.
  • Improved soil health, which mitigates against increasing weather volatility, improves drought resiliency and can positively affect climate change.
  • Implementation of climate-smart practices that improve carbon sequestration and reduce greenhouse gas emissions while building resilient landscapes.

Conservation at Work Videos

Watch how farmers and ranchers across the country are implementing EQIP practices and other conservation activities in our Conservation at Work video series. For example, see how producers are using the nutrient management conservation practice to improve water quality by more effectively using nutrients.

EQIP Initiatives

Targeted EQIP financial assistance is available through several conservation initiatives. See which initiative is available in your state.

EQIP offers grant opportunities through Conservation Innovation Grants, which awards competitive grants that stimulate the development and adoption of innovative approaches and technologies for conservation on agricultural lands.

Technical Assistance

NRCS offers technical assistance at no cost. Producers can use our personalized advice and information, based on the latest science and research, to make informed decisions about their land.

Technical Service Providers (TSP) can help producers plan, design and implement conservation practices or develop conservation activity plans to improve their agricultural operations. For more information on the Technical Service Provider program, visit the TSP page.

Technical assistance is also offered through our Conservation Technical Assistance (CTA) program.

Need a local Technical Service Provider? Visit the locate a TSP page.

How To Get Started

The first step is to contact your local NRCS office. An NRCS conservation planner will schedule a visit to your property. They will walk the land with you to discuss your goals and review any resource concerns. Following the site visit, the conservation planner will develop a conservation plan that includes a variety of conservation practices or activities to address the resource concerns and management goals discussed.

Applications for NRCS conservation programs are accepted on a continuous basis; however, customers should apply by state-specific ranking dates to be considered for the current funding cycle.

  • Find application ranking dates for your state.
  • See payment schedules for your state.
  • See application.

To learn more about EQIP, contact your local NRCS office.

Fact Sheets

EQIP fact sheet (425.04 KB)

EQIP Data, 2009 - Present

NRCS program data are housed on the Resource Conservation Assessment Data Viewer. EQIP data for FY2009 to the present are available on the EQIP data page. Fiscal year 2014 - 2021 financial assistance data related to EQIP and other NRCS programs are available on farmers.gov.


EQIP in Rhode Island

When you apply for EQIP, you may choose to compete in one or more statewide funding pools, based on the predominant land use and type of conservation project being proposed for funding.

For fiscal year 2024, Rhode Island is prioritizing Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) funding targeted to help farmers and forest landowners apply climate-smart practices to improve their operations' resiliency and productivity. We're also funding National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI) implementation practices targeted at the Sakonnet River watershed to address water quality resource concerns identified by state and federal partners.

Rhode Island NRCS also offers farmers and forest landowners streamlined application ranking and approval through ACT NOW.

Scroll down for a complete list of Rhode Islands' funding pools and the ranking criteria for each.

A farmer and NRCS planner looking at a conservation plan in the field.

ACT NOW allows NRCS to quickly approve and obligate ranked applications for specific practices in a designated ranking pool when an eligible application meets or exceeds a State-determined minimum ran

Organic Transition Initiative

Rhode Island strawberry fields with mulching, July 1, 2019.

NRCS is opening a new signup to help Rhode Island farmers and forest landowners to transition to organic agriculture

Climate-Smart Ag & Forestry 

Aerial photo of croplands separated by windbreak trees, next to a pond

FY2024 EQIP-IRA helps farmers and forest landowners apply Climate-Smart practices like cover crops, conservation tillage, prescribed grazing, nutrient management, tree planting, forage and hay planting, and livestock waste management to improve their lands' resiliency and productivity. See our list of climate-smart conservation practices and view practice videos from across the country

Sakonnet River NWQI

View of Long Pond in the Sakonnet River, RI, watershed.

Farmers in the Sakonnet River watershed in Eastern Rhode Island can apply for 2024 funds to address water quality issues through the National Water Quality Initiative

Oyster Restoration Initiative

Workers deploying oyster shells from a boat.

NRCS is working with Ocean State oyster growers to help restore oyster reefs to improve water quality, aquatic habitat and the Rhode Island oyster fishery through the Rhode Island Oyster Reef Restoration Initiative.

Cattle in a field

Funding Pools 

  • General EQIP - The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) provides financial and technical assistance to farmers to address natural resource concerns and deliver environmental benefits like improved water and air quality, conserved ground and surface water, increased soil health, reduced soil erosion and sedimentation, improved or created wildlife habitat, and climate resiliency.
  • Working lands ranking pool - includes all applicants with non-forested land uses.
  • Forest resiliency ranking pool - includes all applicants with forested land use.
  • Beginning farmers and historically underserved farmers and ranchers ranking pool - Applications from Historically Underserved Farmers & Ranchers, under EQIP, are considered within specific sub-account fund pools.
  • Conservation Planning Activities (CPA), Design Implementation Activities (DIA), or Conservation Evaluation and Monitoring Activities (CEMA) ranking pool - A reorganized approach to planning, designing, applying and monitoring conservation activities on agricultural lands. Applicants may use EQIP to develop written conservation plans using Conservation Planning Activities (CPA), Design Implementation Activities (DIA), or Conservation Evaluation and Monitoring Activities (CEMA).
  • Organic growers or farmers transitioning to organic may apply to this EQIP sub-account. Applicants must be registered with the RIDEM Division of Agriculture.
  • Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan (CNMP) implementation - Farmers with a completed CNMP may apply for EQIP funds to apply conservation practices from that CNMP through this EQIP sub-account. Applicants must provide a copy of the approved CNMP.
  • EQIP Conservation Incentive Contracts are a new option under EQIP that focus on Climate-Smart Forestry and Agriculture and Drought Resilience management practices. EQIP-CIC provides financial assistance to adopt conservation activities on working landscapes and provides annual payments, similar to CSP.
  • National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI) - For fiscal year 2024 we are funding NWQI implementation practices through EQIP for the Sakonnet River watershed to address water quality resources concerns. 
  • On-farm energy enables the producer to identify ways to conserve energy on the farm through two types of Agricultural Energy Management Plans (AgEMP) for headquarters and/or for landscape, also known as an on-farm energy audit (headquarters and/or landscape); and by providing financial and technical assistance to help the producer implement various measures and practices recommended in these on-farm energy audits.
  • Oyster reef restoration state initiative provides financial assistance to improve water quality and encourage the development of wildlife habitat by implementing conservation practices that create oyster reefs.
  • RCPP farm plan implementation project led by local Rhode Island partners.
  • IRA-EQIP will help farmers and ranchers apply expanded conservation practices to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase storage of carbon in their soil and trees. This voluntary, incentive-based approach is targeted to support climate-smart mitigation activities and other conservation activities that help facilitate them.

Ranking Criteria

Intercropping at Highland Farm on Block Island, RI, June 2021.

Below are the FY 2024 ranking criteria and questions for NRCS programs in Rhode Island by funding pool:

Additional Information

More information relating to the Environmental Quality Incentives Program in Rhode Island.

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.