The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers and non-industrial forest managers to address natural resource concerns and deliver environmental benefits.
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.
The Fiscal Year 2023 General EQIP Signup date is November 18, 2022.
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.
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.
Targeted EQIP financial assistance is available through several conservation initiatives. See which initiative is available in your state.
- High Tunnel Initiative
- Organic Initiative
- Air Quality Initiative
- Landscape Conservation Initiative
- On-Farm Energy Initiative
- Colorado River Basin Salinity Project
Vermont Organic Farming
Organic production of agricultural products helps to sustain and enhance the health of ecosystems and organisms. Organic production relies on a form of farming which avoids or largely excludes the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, plant growth regulators, and livestock additives.
- Certified Organic - producers with a USDA National Organic Program (NOP) Organic Certificate or proof of good standing from a USDA accredited certifying agent. The certification must be maintained for the life of the EQIP contract.
- Exempt from Certification of the NOP - producers who are selling less than $5,000 a year in organic agricultural products and are exempt from NOP’s certification. Exempt organic producers are eligible for the EQIP Organic Initiative if they self-certify that they agree to develop and work toward implementing an Organic Systems Plan (OSP), as required by the NOP.
- Transitioning to Organic - producers who are in the process of transitioning to organic. Transitioning producers self-certify that they agree to develop and work toward implementing an OSP, as required by the NOP.
Assistance begins with the development of a conservation plan based on a needs assessment and each farmer’s unique goals. The plan includes conservation practices, systems or activities, and the resource concerns identified in the assessment.
Common conservation practices, systems or activities planned include:
- Improving irrigation efficiency;
- Developing a Conservation Activity Plan for Transition that can be part of the OSP;
- Establishing buffer zones;
- Creating pollinator habitat;
- Improving soil health and controlling erosion;
- Developing a grazing plan and supportive livestock practices;
- Enhancing cropping rotations;
- Nutrient and pest management activities;
- Managing cover crops; and
- Installing a high tunnel system.
Additional information about the Organic Initiative:
- Financial assistance is limited to no more than $140,000 total over the 2018 Farm Bill years, 2019 through 2023.
- Producers must meet all other eligibility requirements associated with EQIP
- Participants who are not certified or exempt from certification, agree to develop and work towards implementing an Organic System Plan to meet National Organic Program organic certification through USDA
Although EQIP supports a wide variety of conservation practices, your local NRCS field office staff will work with you to develop an organic plan that includes practices that fits your resource needs as part of the Organic Initiative. Organic and transitioning farmers and ranchers may also apply for assistance through general EQIP or other conservation initiatives.
- Find A Technical Service Provider
- National Organic Program (AMS website)
- National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service EQIP Organic Initiative Page
- EQIP Nationwide
Vermont Organic Farming Links:
The ATTRA program provides information to farmers and other rural users on a variety of sustainable agricultural practices that include both cropping and livestock operations. The program encourages agricultural producers to adopt sustainable agricultural practices which allow them to maintain or improve profits, produce high quality food and reduce adverse impacts to the environment.
NOFA Vermont is a non-profit association of farmers, gardeners, and consumers working to promote an economically viable and ecologically sound Vermont food system for the benefit of current and future generations.
In the United States, the National Organic Program (NOP) is the federal regulatory framework governing organic food. The NOP is administered by the US Department of Agriculture.
OFRF strives to foster the improvement and widespread adoption of organic farming practices.
The OFRF mission:
- To sponsor research related to organic farming;
- To disseminate research results to organic farmers and to growers interested in adopting organic production systems; and
- To educate the public and decision-makers about organic farming issues.
The mission of USDA's Economic Research Service is to anticipate trends and emerging issues in agriculture, food, the environment, and rural America and to conduct high-quality, objective economic research to inform and enhance public and private decision making.
The Center for Sustainable Agriculture was established in 1994 as a unit within the University of Vermont to integrate university and community expertise to promote sustainable farming systems throughout Vermont and the region. We operate as an integral part of University of Vermont Extension , collaborating with faculty and staff throughout the state. Our programs always involve farmers, the University, and other organizations.
The Vermont Pasture Network (VPN) is a collaboration between the UVM Center for Sustainable Agriculture, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative (GLCI), the Vermont Grass Farmers' Association (VGFA), and UVM Extension. VPN's goal is to work cooperatively with farmers, other state and regional organizations, and agency personnel to promote and enhance successful grass-based livestock production throughout Vermont.
Community Scale Ag
Community scale or urban agriculture includes the cultivation, processing, and distribution of agricultural products in urban and suburban areas. Community gardens, rooftop farms, hydroponic, aeroponic and aquaponic facilities, and vertical production, are all examples of urban or community scale agriculture. Tribal communities and small towns may also be included.
High Tunnel Initiative
A High Tunnel System, is an increasingly popular conservation practice for farmers, and is available with financial assistance through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).
With high tunnel systems, no summer is too short or winter too cold because high tunnels:
- Extend the growing season
- Improve plant quality and soil quality
- Reduce nutrient and pesticide transportation
- Improve air quality through reduced transportation inputs
- Reduce energy use by providing consumers with a local source of fresh produce
High tunnels protect plants from severe weather and allow farmers to extend their growing seasons – growing earlier into the spring, later into the fall, and sometimes, year-round. And because high tunnels prevent direct rainfall from reaching plants, farmers can use precise tools like drip irrigation to efficiently deliver water and nutrients to plants. High tunnels also offer farmers a greater ability to control pests and can even protect plants from pollen and pesticide drift.
A number of soil health practices can be used in high tunnels, including cover crops and crop rotations, which also prevent erosion, suppress weeds, increase soil water content, and break pest cycles.
Perhaps the best thing about high tunnels is that they help farmers provide their communities with healthy local food for much of the year – food that requires less energy and transportation inputs.
Supporting practices may be needed to ensure that resource concerns associated with implementing and managing high tunnel systems are addressed. These conservation practices may include:
- Critical Area Planting
- Diversion Grassed Waterway
- Irrigation System, Micro-irrigation
- Subsurface Drain
- Surface Drainage, Field Ditch
- Underground Outlet
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.
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.
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.
Learn about FY23 EQIP Conservation Planning Activities (CPAs), Design and Implementation Activities (DIAs), and Conservation Evaluation and Monitoring Activities (CEMAs).
Technical service providers (TSPs) offer planning, design, and implementation services to agricultural producers such as farmers, ranchers, and private forest landowners on behalf of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). This assistance helps improve the producer's operation.
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.