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Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)

Environmental Quality Incentive Program



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


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.

Minnesota 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. Small & Limited and Beginning Farmers & Ranchers

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, Minnesota has identified the following priorities:

  1. Water Quality
  2. Soil Erosion
  3. Soil Quality
  4. Plants
  5. Animals

Decision Making Process for EQIP

Input from Outside Groups, Agencies, and Citizens: The list of eligible practices in Minnesota, 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 2018 EQIP Deadline

Applications submitted by (August 18, 2017), will be evaluated to be considered for funding in fiscal year 2018. Applications received after that date will be accepted and evaluated for future rounds of funding.

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.

How To Apply For EQIP

Complete EQIP Application At Your Local NRCS Field Office

To apply for EQIP, visit your local NRCS field office, in your local USDA Service Center.  

Download and complete the EQIP application form (Form NRCS-CPA-1200), to establish or update "farm records" with the Farm Service Agency, and submit all other required information to the local NRCS field office prior to application deadlines.

Step-by-step assistance can be found at

Fiscal Year 2017 EQIP Screening tool (PDF; 72 KB)

Fiscal Year 2018 EQIP Costlist

The following costlist shows Conservation Activity Plans (CAPs), conservation practices and practice scenarios that may be offered for 2018 EQIP. Keep in mind, not all CAPs, practices and/or practice scenarios are available in every funding pool. Contact your local NRCS Field Office for additional details.

EQIP Documents below include all eligible conservation activity plans, conservation practices, payment rates and program guidance for FY2017.

Minnesota EQIP Funding Pools and Ranking Documents

EQIP National Ranking criteria (PDF; 49 KB)
EQIP State Ranking Criteria (PDF; 41 KB)

[State] Funding Pools



General EQIP

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

Ranking (PDF, 123 KB)

Beginning Farmer and Rancher

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

Ranking (PDF, 122 KB)

Socially Disadvantaged Producer

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

Ranking (PDF, 143 KB)

Tree- Shrub

The 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.

Ranking (PDF, 149 KB)

Livestock - Grazing

The Grazing 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.

Ranking (PDF, 123 KB)

Livestock & Ag-Waste

The Ag-Waste funding pool to address resource concerns related to the storage, treatment, and management of animal waste.

Ranking (PDF, 123 KB)

Wildlife - Statewide

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

Ranking (PDF, 126 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.

FY 2018 Conservation Activity Plan (CAP)

Ranking (PDF, 122 KB)

FY 2018 National CAPs Payment Rates (PDF; 73 KB)

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:


Ranking (PDF, 118 KB)

More information on the NWQI webpage.


See which NRCS Initiatives is right for you!

Initiative Funding Pools




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.

Ranking (PDF, 115 KB)

High Tunnel System

The purpose of the 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.

Ranking (PDF, 122 KB)

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.

Ranking (PDF, 117 KB)

Documents on this page may require Acrobat Reader.


Other information

National Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)

Program Contact

Brenda Tonn, Program Specialist
Phone: 651-602-7883