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Environmental Quality Incentives Program

Round 5 Scenic CT farm with EQIP logo

What's New with EQIP - Connecticut

Some conservation practices have cost caps, for instance:

  • Addressing resource concerns identified in a Forest Management Plan, such as Access Road, will be capped. Capped amounts will be applied to all Forestry applications, and any access road required to address resource concerns beyond the financial cap may be contracted under 655.
  • Another practice with a cost cap is Seasonal High Tunnel. Capped amounts are to be applied to all Seasonal High Tunnel applications.
  • Seasonal high tunnels must be Gothic Style. 

What's New with EQIP - National?

EQIP Final Rule adopted May 12, 2016, on

  • 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




NRCS accepts applications on a continuing basis.


The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) is reauthorized by the 2014 Farm Bill to promote agricultural production, forest management, and environmental quality as compatible national goals and to optimize environmental benefits on eligible land with farmers and non-industrial private forest landowners on a voluntary basis. Through EQIP, agricultural producers receive financial and technical assistance to implement structural and management conservation practices that optimize environmental benefits on working agricultural land.


Applications are currently being accepted for Connecticut's state RCPP proposal.


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 non-point 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
  7. Biological carbon storage and sequestration

In addition, Connecticut has identified the following priorities:

  1. Water Quality
  2. Soil Health
  3. Soil Erosion
  4. Forestry
  5. Livestock Production Limitations

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. The following document describes how to apply for Farm Bill programs or visit Get Started with NRCS.

To apply for EQIP, contact your local service center.

Forms Needed to Sign Up

The following documents require Adobe Acrobat
Additional forms you may need:


EQIP is open to all eligible agricultural producers. To be considered for funding, all applications must meet the criteria for both producer eligibility and land eligibility.

Applicants must:  

  • be considered an agricultural producer
  • have control of the land for the life of the contract
  • be in compliance with federal highly erodible land and wetland conservation provisions
  • be within appropriate payment limitation requirements and adjusted gross income requirements

The land being offered into the program must be agricultural land, non-industrial private forest land, or other land on which agricultural products, livestock, or forest-related products are produced.

Applications for financial assistance must also be supported by a current conservation plan or a complete farm assessment which documents land and practice eligibility.

Applicants should contact their NRCS Service Center to make an appointment for conservation planning assistance.

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.

Decision Making Process for EQIP

Input from outside groups, agencies, and citizens: The list of eligible practices in Connecticut, 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 agri-businesses, producer groups, conservation organizations, and federal, state, and tribal government agency representatives.

EQIP Deadlines

To apply for EQIP, contact your local service center or visit Get Started with NRCS. Do you farm and want to make improvements to the land you own or lease? NRCS offers technical and financial assistance to help farmers, forest landowners, and operators of leased land.

EQIP Organic Initiative

Starting a practice prior to written contract approval will result in the ineligibility of the practice for EQIP assistance, unless a waiver has been approved.

EQIP Payment Rates

All Connecticut  program payment rates and practice scenario descriptions are available on the National USDA NRCS Payment Schedule website

Connecticut EQIP Sub-Accounts and Ranking Documents

Connecticut Sub-Accounts


Ranking Documents

Beginning Farmer and Rancher

This sub-account is for applicants applying as Beginning Farmers. These are landowners who have been engaged in farming for no more than 10 years. For forestry practices, the applicant must have owned the land for no more than 10 years. Eligible conservation practices for this sub-account include all practices offered for EQIP. Applicants in this sub-account are eligible for higher practice payment rates.

Ranking Tool

Socially Disadvantaged Producer

This sub-account is for applicants who certify as Socially Disadvantaged according to information provided under the National Guidance for Socially Disadvantaged, Beginning, and Limited Resource Farmers/Ranchers, Veteran Farmers. Eligible conservation practices for this sub-account include all practices offered for EQIP. Applicants in this sub-account are eligible for higher practice payment rates.

Ranking Tool

Limited Resource Producer This sub-account is for applicants who certify as Limited Resource according to information provided under the National Guidance for Socially Disadvantaged, Beginning, and Limited Resource Farmers/Ranchers, Veteran Farmers. Eligible conservation practices for this sub-account include all practices offered for EQIP. Applicants in this sub-account are eligible for higher practice payment rates.

Ranking Tool


This sub-account is for applicants enrolling to implement forest management practices based on a certified forest management or stewardship plan. NRCS aims to promote sustainable forest management and harvesting techniques. Participants may choose a registered NRCS Technical Service Provider of their choice to write the plan. Timber Stand Improvement, Forest Trails and Landings, and Brush Management are some of the practices that can be scheduled if recommended in a Forest Management Plan.

Ranking Tool


This sub-account is for applicants who wish to implement a Grazing Management Plan, or whose operations are predominantly used for livestock production. This would include dairy farms and operations that raise beef, sheep, goats, alpacas, or other livestock. Conservation practices that can be included in these conservation plans include fencing for rotational grazing, watering facilities, pasture and hayland planting, heavy use areas, and brush management.

Ranking Tool

Animal Feeding Operation (AFO) and Confined Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO)

AFO's are agricultural enterprises where animals are kept and raised in confined situations where feed, manure and urine, dead animals, and production operations all occur on a small land area. A CAFO is an AFO with more than 1,000 animal units (an animal is defined as an animal equivalent of 1,000 lbs. live weight) confined on site for more than 45 days during the year. Existing AFO/CAFO's can apply for EQIP financial assistance for the storage, treatment, and utilization of animal waste. This is a statewide process to address the water quality impacts of these operations to the rivers and streams of the state, and control soil erosion. Applicants should have a Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan in order to apply for practices recommended in the plan such as Heavy Use Area Protection, Animal Mortality Facility, Waste Storage Facility, Critical Area Planting, Grassed Waterway, etc.

Ranking Tool


This sub-account is for landowners whose operations are predominantly crop-production. Vegetable, nursery, orchard, greenhouse, and other specialty crop production may be eligible under this sub-account. Conservation practices that may be included in these conservation plans can include erosion control practices, seasonal high tunnels, conservation irrigation, and soil health practices. A producer should have a Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan if interested in applying for nutrient management practices.

Ranking Tool


This sub-account is for applicants who wish to implement practices which benefit wildlife on their farm or forest. Applicants may apply for practices which benefit wildlife either directly or indirectly. Some of the practices include Riparian Buffer, Conservation Cover, and Forested or Herbaceous Structures for Wildlife.

Ranking Tool

Conservation Activity Plan (CAP)

This sub-account is for any applicant applying for a Conservation Activity Plan (CAP). CAPs available in Connecticut are for:

  • Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan
  • Nutrient Management Plan
  • Forest Management Plan
  • Feed Management Plan
  • Grazing Management Plan
  • Prescribed Burning Plan
  • Integrated Pest Management Plan
  • On-Farm Energy Management Plan
  • Drainage Water Management Plan
  • Conservation Plan Supporting Organic Transition
  • Fish and Wildlife Habitat Management Plan
  • Pollinator Habitat Enhancement Plan

A completed and certified CAP may be required before a participant can apply for certain practices. For example, a participant must have a certified Forest Management Plan in order to apply to NRCS for forest management practices.

Comprehensive Nutrient Mgmt. Plan CAP Ranking Tool

Nutrient Mgmt. Plan CAP Ranking Tool

Forest Mgmt. Plan CAP Ranking Tool

Feed Mgmt. Plan CAP Ranking Tool

Grazing Mgmt. Plans CAP Ranking Tool

Prescribed Burning Plan CAP Ranking Tool

Integrated Pest Mgmt. Plan CAP Ranking Tool

On-Farm Energy Mgmt Plan CAP Ranking Tool

Drainage Water Mgmt. Plan CAP Ranking Tool

Conservation Plan Supporting Organic Transition CAP Ranking Tool

Fish & Wildlife Habitat Mgmt. Plan CAP Ranking Tool

Pollinator Habitat Enhancement Plan CAP Ranking Tool

CAP Guidance and Descriptions

Practices and Payment Rates

National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI)

NRCS is offering technical and financial assistance to farmers and forest landowners interested in improving water quality and aquatic habitats in priority watersheds with impaired streams. Qualified producers may apply for financial assistance to install conservation practices in the designated watersheds to address documented phosphorus, bacteria, and sediment impairments which may be caused by soil erosion, exposed soil, and lack of riparian buffers and filter strips. Following are the designated watersheds:

  • Little River Watershed
  • Broad Brook

The application batching date for current year NWQI funding is March 16, 2018.

More information on the NWQI webpage.

NWQI Payment Schedule-Broad Brook Watershed

NWQI Ranking Tool-Broad Brook Watershed

NWQI Payment Schedule-Little River Watershed

NWQI Ranking Tool-Little River Watershed

Initiative Sub-Accounts



Ranking Documents

Working Lands for Wildlife Initiative - New England Cottontail

NRCS, in partnership with other state and federal agencies through the Working Lands for Wildlife Strategy, is working to restore habitat for the New England Cottontail (NEC) rabbit within the species' historic range. The NEC is considered an at-risk species that has undergone major population decline due to loss of habitat. NRCS can provide financial assistance to eligible applicants for practices which restore or create habitat within the NEC's historic range. Some practices aimed at restoring habitat include Early Successional Habitat Development, Structures for Wildlife, and Tree and Shrub Establishment. The focus areas for the initiative are located on the eastern and western sides of the state including towns in Litchfield, Fairfield, New London, and Windham Counties. Participants should have a Forest Management Plan CAP if the land in application is forestland.

Ranking Tool

Working Lands for Wildlife Initiative - Bog Turtle The Bog Turtle is currently listed as Threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The Bog Turtle depends on a habitat composed of open, sunny wetlands and dry, grassy areas. Under this initiative, NRCS can provide financial assistance to private landowners in Litchfield and Fairfield Counties who have wetlands and wish to conserve or restore bog turtle habitat. Some of the eligible core practices include Restoration and Management of Declining Habitats, Early Successional Habitat Development, and Upland Wildlife Habitat Management.

Ranking Tool

On-Farm Energy

The Energy Initiative is designed to help producers improve energy efficiency on their agricultural operations. This initiative provides funding for individual on-farm energy audits, and results which will allow participants to save both money and energy when fully implemented.

Ranking Tool

Certified Organic This sub-account is for applicants who are certified organic operations. Applicants must be certified by an accredited USDA certifying agent. Conservation practices for these conservation plans will focus on practices that are used on organic farms and other practices that address resource concerns on their operation.

Ranking Tool

Transitioning to Organic This sub-account is for applicants who are transitioning to organic production. Applicants shall self-certify that they agree to develop and work toward implementing an Organic System Plan. Conservation practices for these conservation plans will focus on practices that are used on organic farms and other practices that address resource concerns on their operation.

Ranking Tool

























RCPP Partner

Geographic Area

Project Purpose

Land Use(s)

Improving Soil Health and Water Quality in the Thames River Watershed.

The Last Green Valley/Eastern Connecticut Conservation District Thames River Watershed

Funds are available to implement conservation practices in the field that can save farmers time, effort, and money. By improving soil health, producers can reduce erosion and runoff, reduce pest and weed problems, reduce fertilizer use and fuel consumption through fewer tractor passes, and mitigate drought with soils that hold more moisture. EQIP practices include cover crops, residue and tillage management, conservation crop rotation as well as composting facilities, and grazing practices.

Crop: Farmstead; Pasture

Achieving Agricultural Water Security in Connecticut through RCPP University of Connecticut Statewide

This project focuses on the national priority of water quantity in the State of Connecticut. The long-term goal of the project is achieving agricultural water security for existing and new agricultural producers. We will work with producers across the state to develop science-based plans for drought preparedness. EQIP practices include water well, irrigation pipeline, micro-irrigation, and structure for water control (flow meters).

Path to Reduce Pathogens in Connecticut Agricultural Runoff University of Connecticut Eastern Connecticut/ Thames River Watershed To address the degradation of soil and water from agricultural operations, the University of Connecticut will enlist partnersand apply technical and financial assistance focused on reducing pathogens associated with agricultural activities. Potential conservation practices to reduce pathogens will include composting, nutrient management, residue and tillage management, cover crops, fencing, buffers and filter strips, vegetated treatment areas, and wetlands. Crop; Farmstead; Pasure
The Young Forest Initiative for At-Risk Species Wildlife Management Institute/CT DEEP Wildlife Statewide This project will help increase technical and financial assistance to non-industrial private forestland owners who implement practices in the Environmental Quality Incentives Program to increase the quantity and quality of young forest habitats. Young forest habitat is necessary to meet the critical needs of several recognized at-risk species. In Connecticut, the project will prioritize projects that benefit the American Woodcock and/or New England Cottontail through implementation of EQIP practices including early successional habitat management, brush management, forest trails, and lands. Forest
Accelerating the Pace of Conservation in the Southern New England Heritage Forest The Last Green Valley Northeastern Connecticut The Southern New England Heritage Forest Project will connect forest landowners with NRCS programs and serices. A partnership of organizations and agencies will offer private woodland owners a suite of NRCS tools for sound management and forestry conservation practices through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program. Forest
Long Island Sound Watershed RCPP Connecticut Council on Soil and Water Conservation Statewide Projects through the Long Island Sound RCPP may include efforts to improve the state's water quality, combat drought, enhance soil health, support wildlife habitat, and protect agricultural viability. Current projects include in-stream and riparian habitat improvements, with the goal of improving water quality and wildlife habitat.

Crop; Ripari




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.

Connecticut 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.

List of Practices

More Information

Joyce Purcell
Assistant State Conservationist - Programs
(860) 871-4028

TSP State Contact
Nancy Ferlow
State Resource Conservationist
(860) 871-4049