As USDA’s premiere water quality initiative, National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI) provides a way to accelerate voluntary, on-farm conservation investments and focused water quality monitoring and assessment resources where they can deliver the greatest benefits for clean water.
Through the National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI), the NRCS will work with agricultural producers to implement voluntary conservation practices to improve water quality in high-priority watersheds while maintaining agricultural productivity. NWQI is designed to help individual agricultural producers take actions to reduce the runoff of sediment, nutrients, and pathogens into waterways where water quality is a critical concern. The goal is to implement conservation practices in focused watersheds in a concentrated area so that agriculture no longer contributes to the impairment of water bodies within these priority watersheds.
Within NWQI eligible producers may receive assistance through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) for installing on-farm conservation practices. Eligible land is determined by NRCS and is based on an identified resource concern. Eligible producers may apply for financial assistance for conservation practices that will address the identified resource concerns. The priority resource concern for the initiative is addressing water quality degradation. Financial assistance through EQIP is available to all eligible agricultural producers regardless of operation type or size.
Applications for EQIP are accepted by NRCS on a continuous basis through the year. You will need to establish eligibility and farm records for your land. NRCS will help you complete an application while explaining producer and land eligibility requirements, participant responsibilities, and which conservation practices are available. Please note that commencing a conservation practice prior to contract obligation will result in ineligibility for financial assistance for that conservation practice (unless a written waiver has been approved). Beginning Farmers, Limited Resource Farmers, Socially Disadvantaged Farmers, and Veteran Farmers are encouraged to apply.
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.