The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) was reauthorized in the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 (Farm Bill) to provide a voluntary conservation program for farmers and ranchers that promotes agricultural production and environmental quality as compatible national goals. EQIP offers financial and technical help to assist eligible participants install or implement structural and management practices on eligible agricultural land.
In addition, the 2008 Farm Bill included provisions for the use of EQIP to provide opportunities for organic producers to address natural resource concerns related to organic production as well as requirements related to adherence to the National Organic Program (NOP) requirements and new program payment limitations.
This assistance helps producers plan and implement conservation practices to allow their organic operations to be environmentally sustainable. Some highlights of the organic provisions in the 2008 Farm Bill and associated regulatory changes include:
Assistance for conservation practices and planning related to addressing resource concerns as part of organic production
Assistance is limited to $20,000 per year and $80,000 during a six year period
Producers will develop and work toward implementing an Organic System Plan (OSP)
Producers must have or be pursing organic certification
EQIP Organic Initiative
Each fiscal year, NRCS will focus financial and technical assistance through the EQIP Organic Initiative to applicants who are:
Certified organic producers
Transitioning to organic production, or
Producers selling less than $5000 organic products annually
The 2014 Organic Initiative provides financial assistance to implement a broad set of conservation practices to assist Organic producers meet their resource concerns and fulfill many of the requirements in an Organic System Plan (OSP) including, but not limited to assistance with:
Developing a conservation plan
Developing a transition to organic production plan
Establishing boundaries and buffer zones
Improving soil quality and organic matter while minimizing erosion
Improving pest management
Developing a grazing plan and improving grazing resources
Improving waste utilization and composting
Improving irrigation efficiency
Enhancing cropping systems and nutrient management
Who Can Apply
Eligible applicants include persons or entities who are certified organic, transitioning to organic production, or those producers selling less than $5000 organic products annually, and have related natural resource concern on the agricultural operation. The applicant must demonstrate control of eligible land in agricultural production. Eligible land includes cropland, rangeland, pastureland, and other farm or ranch lands.
Applicants must submit a program application and other documentation to support eligibility to be considered for financial assistance through EQIP. For more detail regarding eligibility and application requirements contact your local NRCS field office.
NRCS staff will work with the program applicant to develop a conservation plan and an EQIP plan of operations. This plan becomes the basis of the EQIP contract between NRCS and the participant.
EQIP Application Information
Applications for the EQIP Organic Initiative are accepted on a continuous basis throughout the fiscal year; however, NRCS will establish specific dates where eligible applications will be evaluated, ranked, and approved for funding.
In addition to the eligibility information outlined on the EQIP program website, the National Screening Worksheet must be completed for each producer applying for the EQIP Organic Initiative. A producer must self certify (PDF) they meet one of the following categories: