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Environmental Quality Incentives Program | 2017

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EQIP provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers in order to address natural resource concerns and deliver environmental benefits such as improved water and air quality, conserved ground and surface water, reduced soil erosion and sedimentation or improved or created wildlife habitat.

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Introduction

The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) is a voluntary conservation program that helps agricultural producers in a manner that promotes agricultural production and environmental quality as compatible goals. Through EQIP, agricultural producers receive financial and technical assistance to implement structural and management conservation practices that optimize environmental benefits on working agricultural land.

Benefits

Eligible program participants receive financial and technical assistance to implement conservation practices, or activities  like conservation planning, that address natural resource concerns  on their land. Payments are made to participants after conservation practices and activities identified in an EQIP plan of operations are implemented. Contracts can last up to ten years in duration.

Accepting Applications

EQIP applications are accepted on a continuous basis, however, NRCS establishes application "cut-off" or submission deadline dates for evaluation, ranking and approval of eligible applications. EQIP is open to all eligible agricultural producers and submitted applications may be considered or evaluated in multiple funding pool opportunities. The following document describes how to apply for Farm Bill programs or visit the following website: Get started with NRCS national page

To apply for EQIP, contact your local service center or visit your State's EQIP website

Eligibility

Agricultural producers and owners of non-industrial private forestland and Tribes are eligible to apply for EQIP. Eligible land includes cropland, rangeland, pastureland, non-industrial private forestland and other farm or ranch lands.

Applicants must:  

  • Control or own eligible land
  • Comply with adjusted gross income limitation (AGI)  provisions
  • Be in compliance with the highly erodible land and wetland conservation requirements
  • Develop an NRCS EQIP plan of operations

Additional restrictions and program requirements may apply. 

Participant Responsibilities

Applicants are responsible for completing and filing all application and eligibility paperwork as required. If funded, participants are required to sign a contract and agree to implement the planned conservation practices to NRCS standards and specifications as scheduled.

Socially Disadvantaged, Beginning, and Limited Resource Farmers/Ranchers, Military Veteran Farmers

The 2014 Farm Bill continues to address the unique circumstances and concerns of socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers, as well as beginning and limited resource farmers and ranchers and Veteran Farmers. It provides for voluntary participation, offers incentives, and focuses on equity in accessing U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) programs and services. Enhancements include increased payment rates and advance payments of up to 50 percent to purchase materials and services needed to implement conservation practices included in their EQIP contract.

Alabama is committed to reaching out to Historically Underserved individuals and groups. Historically Underserved participants may also receive higher payment rates in addition to being considered in high priority funding pools. See the Small & Limited and Beginning Farmers and Ranchers page for the NRCS definition of the Historically Underserved.

National and State Priorities

The following national priorities, consistent with statutory resources concerns that include soil, water, wildlife, air quality, and related natural resource concerns, may be used in EQIP implementation:

  1. Reductions of nonpoint source pollution, such as nutrients, sediment, pesticides, or excess salinity in impaired watersheds consistent with total maximum daily loads (TMDL) where available; the reduction of surface and groundwater contamination; and the reduction of contamination from agricultural sources, such as animal feeding operations
  2. Conservation of ground and surface water resources
  3. Reduction of emissions, such as particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds, and ozone precursors and depleters that contribute to air quality impairment violations of National Ambient Air Quality Standards
  4. Reduction in soil erosion and sedimentation from unacceptable levels on agricultural land
  5. Promotion of at-risk species habitat conservation including development and improvement of wildlife habitat
  6. Energy conservation to help save fuel, improve efficiency of water use, maintain production, and protect soil and water resources by more efficiently using fertilizers and pesticides and
  7. Biological carbon storage and sequestration

In addition, Alabama has identified the following priorities:

  1. Grazing management: implementation of a prescribed grazing system and/or access control for streams and riparian areas;
  2. Erosion control and soil quality: grade control structures, diversions, water and sediment control basins, stream bank restoration, filter strips, cover crops, sod based crop rotations, conservation tillage;
  3. Nutrient management: manure storage structures, planned nutrient applications, soil testing, precision application of nutrients;
  4. Wildlife habitat enhancement: longleaf pine, opening pine stands for Gopher Tortoise, Riparian Forest Buffers, Prescribed Burning, invasive species control;
  5. Irrigation quality and quantity, irrigation efficiency, irrigation water management, reservoirs for storage of irrigation water;
  6. Pest management: crop and pest monitoring activities, precision application of pesticides and nutrients.

Decision Making Process for EQIP

Input from Outside Groups, Agencies, and Citizens: The list of eligible practices in [State], payment rates and limits, eligible resource concerns, and state scoring criteria are developed based on input and recommendations from the State Technical Committee (STC). The STC is made up of representatives from various agribusinesses, producer groups, conservation organizations, and federal, state, and tribal government agency representatives.

The Local Work Group process and scoring criteria, are based on input from the counties in the Local Work Groups (LWG).

The priorities set at the state and county level are those that the STC and LWG respectively determined were of the greatest need and would have the greatest positive environmental impact. The scoring process at both the state and local level was developed in order to select those projects that would provide the greatest environmental benefit, and therefore provide the greatest public good.

Fiscal Year 2017 EQIP Deadlines - REQUIRED

Applications submitted by October 21, 2016 will be evaluated to be considered for funding in fiscal year 2017. Applications received after that date will be accepted and evaluated for future rounds of funding.

To apply for EQIP,your local service center Get Started with NRCS - Do you farm or ranch and want to make improvements to the land that you own or lease? NRCS offers technical and financial assistance to help farmers, ranchers and forest landowners. Learn how here.

Alabama EQIP Funding Pools and Ranking Documents

How to Apply

Visit your local USDA Service Center to apply or visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/getstarted.

NRCS will help eligible producers develop an EQIP plan of operations, which will become the basis of the EQIP contract.

EQIP applications will be ranked based on a number of factors, including the environmental benefits and cost effectiveness of the proposal.

Download NRCS conservation program application (PDF, 267KB)

More Information

EQIP Fact Sheet (PDF, 1MB)

To learn how to get started with NRCS, visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/getstarted

Detailed EQIP Information

State Resource Concerns

County Ranking Documents and County Resource Concerns

Conservation Activity Plans | CAP

FY 2017 Practice List

2017 Feral Swine Screen Tool

2017 LLPI Screen Tool

2017 WLFW Screen Tool

2017 RCPP Screen Tool

To see more detailed program information about EQIP, visit the EQIP program homepage.

There are several National EQIP Initiatives available: Air Quality, On-Farm Energy, Organic and Seasonal High Tunnel.

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