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Environmental Quality Incentives Program - 2016 (archived) Farm Bill

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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.

What's New in EQIP?

Application Deadline for 2016 funding consideration is Nov. 20, 2015

  • The former Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program was folded into EQIP
  • Advance payment opportunities now exist for veteran agricultural producers
  • Advance payments for socially disadvantaged, beginning and limited resource farmers, Indian tribes and veterans were raised from 30 percent to 50 percent
  • Payment limitations are set at $450,000 with no ability to waive

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

To apply for EQIP, contact your local service center.

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.

Arkansas 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, Arkansas has identified the following priorities:

  1. Soil Quality/Health
  2. Water Quantity: insufficient and excess water
  3. Water Quality: sediment, nutrients
  4. Air Quality
  5. Plants: health/structure
  6. Fish and Wildlife Habitat
  7. Energy

Local and Statewide Funding

Local categories focus on the primary resource issues in a localized area, as identified by the locally-led conservation workgroup representatives for each county or designated local area.

Statewide categories address water quality issues related to animal manure management and sedimentation, improved management of irrigation water and reduction in ground water use, forestland enhancement, livestock production, reduction of erosion, and improvement of wildlife habitat resource concerns.

Primary Issues Addressed by EQIP

EQIP continues to address those primary resource concerns that were identified by locally led groups.  These are:

  • Water Quality, animal waste;
  • Water Quality, sediment, including erosion control;
  • Water Quantity, irrigation (especially groundwater decline);
  • Soil Quality, erosion;
  • Plant Health, forests;
  • Water Quality, forests;
  • Plant Health, grazing land; and
  • Wildlife Habitat concerns.

Fiscal Year 2016 EQIP Deadlines

Applications submitted by Nov. 20, 2015 will be evaluated to be considered for funding in fiscal year 2015. Applications received after that date will be accepted and evaluated for future rounds of funding.

FY 2016 Program Implementation Schedule: Sign-Up (1st Batch Periods)

Funding Categories

Application Deadline

Eligibility Deadline

Ranking Deadline

Preapproval Deadline

Obligation Deadline

EQIP - Historically Underserved

Nov. 20, 2015

Jan. 8, 2016

Jan. 15, 2016

Jan. 20, 2016

March 14, 2016

Strike Force

Nov. 20, 2015

Jan. 8, 2016

Jan. 15, 2016

Jan. 20, 2016

March 15, 2016

EQIP National Initiatives: (Energy, Organic, Seasonal High Tunnel)

Nov. 20, 2015

Jan. 25, 2016

Feb. 1, 2016

Feb. 3, 2016

April 1, 2016

Illinois River

Nov. 20, 2015

Jan. 25, 2016

Feb. 1, 2016

Feb. 3, 2016

April 1, 2016

Woodland Restoration Forestry Project (CLFR)

Nov. 20, 2015

Jan. 25, 2016

Feb. 1, 2016

Feb. 3, 2016

April 1, 2016

Feral Swine (Pilot)

Nov. 20, 2015

Jan. 25, 2016

Feb. 1, 2016

Feb. 3, 2016

April 1, 2016

EQIP General - (Statewide)

Nov. 20, 2015

Feb. 8, 2016

Feb. 15, 2016

Feb. 17, 2016

April 15, 2016

Alternative Crops

Nov. 20, 2015

Feb. 8, 2016

Feb. 15, 2016

Feb. 17, 2016

April 15, 2016

EQIP Conservation Activity Plans

Nov. 20, 2015

Feb. 8, 2016

Feb. 16, 2015

Feb. 17, 2016

April 15, 2016

EQIP General - (Local)

Nov. 20, 2015

Feb. 22, 2016

February 29, 2016

March 3, 2016

May 2, 2016

 

To apply for EQIP, visit 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. Visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/getstarted.

2016 EQIP Conservation Practices and Payment Rates

2016 EQIP Ranking Criteria

  • National (pdf; coming soon)
  • State for all General EQIP, Statewide & Local Funding Categories (pdf; coming soon)
  • Local for all Statewide Categories (pdf; coming soon)
  • Locally Led Workgroup Projects by County (pdf; coming soon)

Initiatives and other Programs under EQIP

Special initiative funding includes:  Alternative Crops; Organic Transition and Organic Certified; Seasonal High Tunnel; On-Farm Energy Conservation; Illinois River; Forestry/Woodland Restoration; Wildlife Habitat Conservation; Strike Force (Identified High Poverty Counties); and Historically Underserved Categories (Beginning Farmers, Socially Disadvantaged Farmers, Limited Resource Farmers and Veteran Farmers).

Archived Information

Contact

Corey Farmer, Resource Conservationist
Phone: (501) 301-3122

More Information

EQIP Fact Sheet (PDF, 1.6MB)

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

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