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EQIP 2017 (archive)

Graziers looking out over field with cattle.


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.

Maryland NRCS is now accepting applications for EQIP. Farmers can sign up for conservation programs throughout the year, but funding selections are made at specific times. Fiscal year 2017 general sign-up deadlines are January 20, 2017 and February 17, 2017. The EQIP Local Funding Pools sign-up deadline is December 16, 2016. Sign-ups for the Working Lands for Wildlife American Black Duck are due April 21, 2017.

Applications accepted after the announced deadlines may be considered for funding if additional application rounds are announced or for potential consideration in 2018.  All applications are competitive and are ranked based on national, state and locally identified resource priorities and the overall benefit to the environment.

To learn how to get started with NRCS, visit

To apply for EQIP, contact your local service center.


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.

Maryland 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, Maryland has identified the following priorities:

  1. Livestock Management
  2. Grazing Management
  3. Erosion Control
  4. Nutrient Management
  5. Pest Management
  6. Wildlife Habitat Enhancement

Decision Making Process for EQIP

Input from Outside Groups, Agencies, and Citizens: The list of eligible practices in Maryland, 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.

Fiscal Year 2017 EQIP Deadlines

Applications submitted by January 20th and February 17th 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. The EQIP Local Funding Pools sign-up deadline is December 16, 2016. 

To apply for EQIP, visit your local service center or

Maryland EQIP Funding Pools and Ranking Documents

FY17 EQIP Payment Schedule (PDF; 444 KB)

Maryland Funding Pools


Ranking and Guidance Documents

Beginning Farmer and Rancher

The primary focus of this funding pool is to assist beginning farmers and ranchers address resource concerns on their operations.

(PDF, 12 kb)

Screening Worksheet (PDF, 24 kb)

Conservation Activity Plan (CAP)

EQIP funding is available for the development of a Conservation Activity Plan (CAP). A CAP can be developed for producers to identify conservation practices needed to address a specific natural resource need. Typically, these plans are specific to certain kinds of land use such as transitioning to organic operations, grazing land, forest land, or can also address a specific resource need such a plan for management of nutrients.

(PDF, 9 kb)

CAP Guidance and Descriptions
(PDF, 49 kb)

Payment Rates
(PDF, 96 kb)
eFOTG Section I-C


The primary focus of the Cropland funding pool is to address soil erosion and water quality resource concerns on cropland and adjacent incidental areas.

Eastern Shore Ranking
(PDF, 12 kb)

Central Ranking
(PDF, 12 kb)

Northern Tier Ranking
(PDF, 12 kb)

Screening Worksheet (PDF, 23 kb)

Map of NRCS Areas


The Forest Management Implementation (FMI) statewide funding pool is for producers with non-industrial private forestland. The goal of the ranking is to address resource issues where forest-related products are produced.

(PDF, 10 kb)


The Grazing Land funding pool is available to applicants statewide that graze livestock. The program is to address natural resource concerns on operations involving the production, growing, raising, or reproducing of livestock.

Eastern Shore Ranking
(PDF, 12kb)

Central Ranking
(PDF, 12kb)

Northern Tier Ranking
(PDF, 12kb)

Screening Worksheet (PDF, 23 kb)


The Livestock funding pool will assist applicants to address livestock related resource concerns such as storage, treatment, and management of animal waste.

Eastern Shore Ranking
(PDF, 12kb)

Central Ranking
(PDF, 12kb)

Northern Tier Ranking
(PDF, 12kb)

Screening Worksheet (PDF, 23 kb)


The Local Funding Pools vary by county. Each county has selected practices based on their local resource concerns.

More information on FY17 EQIP Local Funding Pools.

National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI)

NWQI helps producers implement conservation systems to reduce nitrogen, phosphorous, sediment and pathogen contributions from agricultural land in the following watersheds:

  • Upper Catoctin Watershed
  • Middle Catoctin Watershed
  • Lower Catoctin Watershed

Map of Catoctin Creek Watershed

Upper Catoctin Ranking (PDF, 111 kb)

Middle Catoctin Ranking (PDF, 111 kb)

Lower Catoctin Ranking (PDF, 111 kb)

Screening Worksheet (PDF, 106 kb)


Oyster Restoration

The primary focus of this funding pool is to assist eligible applicants to restore oyster beds on approved restoration sites throughout Maryland’s portion of the Chesapeake Bay.

(PDF, 12kb)


Socially Disadvantaged Producer

The primary focus of this funding pool is to assist socially disadvantaged producers address resource concerns on their operations.

(PDF, 12kb)

Screening Worksheet (PDF, 24 kb)


A priority of EQIP is for the promotion of at-risk species habitat conservation. The Wildlife Habitat Conservation funding pool is available to Maryland producers who will restore, develop, or enhance wildlife habitat.

(PDF, 15kb)

Screening Worksheet (PDF, 23 kb)

Initiative Funding Pools


Ranking Documents

Organic Initiative

The Organic Initiative provides financial assistance to help implement conservation practices for organic producers or those transitioning to organic. The Initiative addresses natural resource concerns and also helps growers meet requirements related to National Organic Program (NOP) requirements.

Certified Organic Ranking
(PDF, 12kb)

Organic Transition Ranking (PDF; 12 kb)

Self-Certification  Worksheet (PDF, 17 kb)

Seasonal High Tunnels

The purpose of the Seasonal High Tunnel System for Crops is to assist producers to extend the growing season for high value crops in an environmentally safe manner. The practice has the potential to assist producers to address resource concerns by improving plant quality, improving soil quality, and reducing nutrient and pesticide transport.

(PDF, 11kb)

On-Farm Energy

The On-Farm Energy Initiative enables the producer to identify ways to conserve energy on the farm through two types of Agricultural Energy Management Plans (AgEMP) for headquarters and/or for landscape, also known as an on-farm energy audit (headquarters and/or landscape); and by providing financial and technical assistance to help the producer implement various measures and practices recommended in these on-farm energy audits.

(PDF, 12kb)

CAP Ranking
(PDF, 12kb)

Cost Efficiency Worksheet (XLS, 76 kb)

Screening Worksheet (PDF, 16 kb)

Working Lands for Wildlife (Golden-Winged Warbler)

Working Lands for Wildlife will increase and improve early successional habitat by decreasing habitat fragmentation and reducing isolation of golden-winged warbler populations. The result will be an expansion of Appalachian breeding habitat and an increase in reproducing golden-winged warbler populations, decreasing the potential for listing under the Endangered Species Act.

(PDF, 17 kb)

Screening Worksheet (PDF, 23 kb)

Working Lands for Wildlife
Bog Turtle
Through Working Lands for Wildlife, NRCS will assist private landowners to combat habitat fragmentation and degradation to restore bog turtle populations, and increase landowner confidence that the conservation practices they volunteer to implement will not harm the species or its habitat. Restoration activities will complement the existing NRCS Wetland Reserve Program effort to protect bog turtle habitat.

(PDF, 17 kb)

Screening Worksheet (PDF, 23 kb)

Working Lands for Wildlife American Black Duck Black duck habitat will be restored and enhanced through installation of conservation practices and protection of habitat through easements. Maryland will focus on developing habitat and controlling invasive species . Ranking (PDF; 16 kb)
Air Quality Regional Priority

The primary focus of this funding pool is to address identified priority agricultural air quality resource concerns designated in the regional air quality priority areas for the Delaware and Eastern Maryland portion of the Delmarva Peninsula, consisting of the state of Delaware and Maryland east of the Chesapeake Bay up to and including Cecil County.  These agricultural regional air quality priority areas may not be directly related to nonattainment of Federal air quality standards, but have significant regulatory or conservation implications for agricultural sources of pollution.

Ranking (PDF, 15 kb)




































For Additional Information, please visit the national NRCS websites

Conservation Activity Plans (CAPs)
Seasonal High Tunnel
Organic Initiative
On-Farm Energy Initiative
National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI)

Program Archives

Program Contacts

Mikel Williams Hawkins
Farm Bill Specialist
Phone: 443.482.2923

Jackie Byam
Assistant State Conservationist for Programs
Phone: 443.482.2927