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EQIP 2021

2018 EQIP Web Header






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.


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.

Learn how to Get Started with NRCS

To apply for EQIP, contact your local service center.

CPA-1200 NRCS Conservation Program Application


Farmers, ranchers and forest landowners who own or rent agricultural land are eligible.  EQIP assistance can be used on all types of agricultural operations, including:

  • Conventional and organic
  • Specialty crops and commodity crops
  • Forestry
  • Wildlife
  • Historically underserved producers
  • Livestock operations

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 2018 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.

Historically underserved (HU) participants are eligible for advance payments to help offset costs related to purchasing materials or contracting through EQIP.  HU participants may elect to receive an advance of not less than 50 percent of the EQIP conservation practice payment amount.  If the participant elects to receive the advance payment, the funds must be expended within 90 days of receiving the advance.

The 2018 Farm Bill expanded eligibility regarding with whom NRCS can enter into an EQIP contract. NRCS may enter into EQIP contracts with water management entities when they are supporting a water conservation or irrigation efficiency project.  These entities are defined as State, irrigation district, ground water management district, acequia, land grant-merced, or similar entity.

The 2018 Farm Bill requires a national 10 percent of mandatory program funding be targeted towards source water protection.  States will identify priority source water protection areas and may offer increased incentives and higher payment rates for practices that address water quality and/or water quantity.  

Beginning in 2020, States may provide increased payment rates for high-priority practices.  In consultations with the State Technical Committee, State Conservationists may designate up to 10 practices to be eligible for increased payments.  Eligible high-priority practices include those that address specific causes of ground or surface water impairment relating to excessive nutrients, address the conservation of water to advance drought mitigation and declining aquifers, meets other environmental priorities and other priority resource concerns identified in habitat or other area restoration plans, or is geographically targeted to address a natural resource concern in a specific watershed.

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:

  • 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.
  • Conservation of ground and surface water resources.
  • 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.
  • Reduction in soil erosion and sedimentation from unacceptable levels on agricultural land.
  • Promotion of at-risk species habitat conservation including development and improvement of wildlife habitat.
  • 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
  • Biological carbon storage and sequestration.

In addition, Colorado has identified the following priorities:

  • Water Quality and Quantity: irrigation systems, water control structures and irrigation water management
  • Grazing management: fencing, stockwater systems, range and pasture planting
  • Nutrient management: manure storage structures, planned nutrient applications, soil testing
  • Soil Health: conservation crop rotation, cover crops and conservation tillage
  • Wildlife habitat enhancement: buffer practices, upland wildlife habitat establishment
  • Forest Health: forest timber removal and woody residue treatment

Decision Making Process for EQIP

Input from Outside Groups, Agencies, and Citizens: The list of eligible practices in Colorado, 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 agribusiness, producer groups, conservation organizations, and federal, state, and tribal government agency representatives.

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 2021 EQIP Deadlines

Applications submitted by January 8, 2021 will be evaluated to be considered for funding in fiscal year (FY) 2021. Applications received after that date will be accepted and evaluated for future rounds of funding.

Visit your local USDA Service Center to apply, or visit Get Started with NRCS.  

Colorado EQIP Funding Pools, Screening and Ranking Information

General EQIP​ Screening

FY-21 Ranking Information

Fund Pool Applicable
Geographic Region
High Tunnel Statewide
National Air Quality Initiative Limited Counties
(See Map)
National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI)

Limestone and Graveyard Creek Only

On-Farm Energy Statewide
Organic Initiative-certified and transitioning Statewide
WLFW Lesser Prairie Chicken Initiative LPCI Habitat (See Map)
WLFW Sage Grouse Initiative SGI Habitat (See Map)
Source Water Protection Statewide (See Map)
Conservation Activity Plan (CAP) Statewide
Ute Tribal Conservation Projects Tribal Lands
Animal Waste Management Statewide
Wildlife Habitat Statewide
Beginning Farmer/Limited Resource Farmer Statewide
Socially Disadvantaged Farmer/Rancher Statewide
Joint Chief's - N Front Range Collab RT 16&21
(Joint Chief's Ranking)
WaterSMART RT7 (Florida Ditch Project)
Salinity Salinity Offices Only
Water Management Entities Statewide
Salinity Wildlife Habitat Improvement Salinity Offices Only



See 2016-2020 Projects Story Map Here

2021 Targeted Conservation Project Applicable Resource Team
Rio Grande Surface Water Project RT 8
Ogallala Aquifer RT 13, 12, 18, 19



RT 1 - Craig & Meeker
RT 2 -  Steamboat & Walden
RT 3 - Glenwood Springs & Kremmling
RT 4 - Grand Junction & Delta
RT 5 - Gunnison & Montrose
RT 6 - Cortez, Dove Creek & Towaoc
RT 7 -Durango, Pagosa Springs, & Ignacio
RT 8 - Alamosa, Center & San Luis
RT 9 - Canon City, Salida, Silver Cliff & Teller Park
RT 10 - Trinidad & Walsenburg
RT 11 - Lamar, Las Animas & Springfield
RT 12 - Pueblo & Rocky Ford
RT 13 - Cheyenne Wells & Eads
RT 14 - Burlington & Hugo
RT 15 - Colorado Springs, Franktown, & Simla
RT 16 - Denver & Longmont
RT 17 - Brighton & Byers
RT 18 - Akron, Wray & Yuma
RT 19 - Holyoke & Julesburg
RT 20 - Fort Morgan & Sterling
RT 21 - Fort Collins & Greeley
RT Land Use Funding
RT Irrigation Grazing Lands Soil Health Forestry Agro


Urban Agriculture

FY-21 Payment Schedule

FY-21 West Slope Payment Schedule

FY-21 Initiative Payment Schedule

The list of eligible practices and rates are provided in the 2021 Payment Schedule. The Payment Schedule identifies practice payment limits that may apply and conditions where the practices may apply.  Contact your local service center for assistance in determining which payment rate would apply to individual projects.

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