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Nebraska Environmental Quality Incentives Program

 

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The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers to address natural resource concerns and deliver environmental benefits such as improved water and air quality, conserved ground and surface water, increased soil health and reduced soil erosion and sedimentation, improved or created wildlife habitat, and mitigation against increasing weather volatility.

How It Works

This voluntary conservation programs helps producers make conservation work for them.  Together, NRCS and producers invest in solutions that conserve natural resources for the future while also improving agricultural operations.

Through EQIP, NRCS provides agricultural producers with financial resources and one-on-one help to plan and implement improvements, or what NRCS calls conservation practices.  Using these practices can lead to cleaner water and air, healthier soil and better wildlife habitat, all while improving agricultural operations.  Through EQIP, you can voluntarily implement conservation practices, and NRCS co-invests in these practices with you.

Benefits

EQIP is NRCS’s most popular and most frequently utilized conservation program.  Thousands of producers voluntarily enroll in the program every year to address priority resource concern benefiting both their agricultural operation and environmental quality.

Some of these benefits include:

  • Reduction of contamination from agricultural sources, such as animal feeding operations.
  • Efficient utilization of nutrients, reducing input costs and reduction in nonpoint source pollution.
  • Increased soil health to help mitigate against increasing weather volatility and improved drought resiliency.

2018 Farm Bill EQIP Updates

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 (SWPA) 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.

EQIP Incentive Contracts

The 2018 Farm Bill introduced EQIP incentive contracts to expand resource benefits to producers through incentive practices such as cover crops, transition to resource conserving crop rotations and precision agriculture technologies along with a similarly broad suite of incentive practices for ranchers and non-industrial private forest operators.  Every region within a State will have identified high-priority areas and each of these areas will target up to three priority resource concerns by land use.  In addition to the payment for practice implementation, incentive contracts offer annual payments to address operations and maintenance costs as well as foregone income.  EQIP incentive contracts can be a stepping stone for producers between EQIP classic and Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) contracts.

You can visit the 2018 Farm Bill Programs page for for more information about other NRCS conservation opportunities.

 

Popular Practices

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EQIP Initiatives

Targeted EQIP financial assistance is available through general EQIP, and several other initiatives. These initiatives address priority natural resource concerns on the most vulnerable lands, target conservation assistance in high priority watersheds, or help stimulate the development and adoption of innovation and technology.

How To Get Started

To learn more about EQIP, contact your local NRCS office. An NRCS conservationist will visit you and evaluate the natural resources on your land. NRCS will then present a variety of conservation practices or system alternatives to help you address those concerns or management goals to improve or protect the natural resource conditions on your land. Please visit the Apply for EQIP page for more information on to how apply.

High Tunnel Initiative Organic Initiative Air Quality Initiative Landscape Initiative
       
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EQIP Data, 2009 - Present

NRCS program results data are housed on the RCA Data Viewer. EQIP data for FY2009 to the present are available on the EQIP data page.

Nebraska Program Ranking Criteria 

Nebraska Allocation Process

National and Nebraska Priorities

National and Nebraska Initiatives

Nebraska EQIP Ranking Tools

State Rankings

  • High Tunnel System
  • On-Farm Energy
  • Organic Certified
  • Organic Transition
  • Nebraska Forestry Initiative
  • Prescribed Burn Plan
  • Tribal Initiative
  • Wildlife Initiative Nebraska (WIN)
  • Water Quality Degradation Excess Pathogens/Manure Animal Feeding Operation
  • State Water Quality Initiative - Long Pine Creek

Area Rankings

Local Rankings - Click on your county below

EQIP Ranking Map

HOW DO I APPLY FOR EQIP?

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. Here are some of the basic steps

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.

For more information on how to apply for Farm Bill programs visit the following website:www.nrcs.usda.gov/getstarted. To apply for EQIP, contact your local service center.

WHO CAN APPLY FOR EQIP?

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 or conservation plan – Link to What is a Conservation Plan
  • Additional restrictions and program requirements may apply.

WHAT ARE MY RESPONSIBILITIES IF I APPLY OR HAVE A PROJECT FUNDED?

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. 10 top tips to be successful in EQIP.

WHAT IF I AM A SOCIALLY DISADVANTAGED, BEGINNING, AND LIMITED RESOURCE FARMERS/RANCHERS, MILITARY VETERAN FARMERS (SDBLRMVF)?

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. For more information, please click on this link – SDBLRMVF information

HOW ARE PROJECTS RANKED?

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

NRCS funds Environmental Quality Incentives Program applications that do the most to improve the environment. Funding selections also consider the land use and the location of the applicants’ property. A ranking system gives points to each application. NRCS assigns points by looking at how much the land treatments in the application will improve natural resources. A local work group made up of conservationists, agricultural producers, and others working with natural resources in the community choose which natural resource problems are most important at the local level. The local points make up 25% of the total points used for ranking. The NRCS State Conservationist must approve local work group ranking points, the conservation practices selected to improve the natural resource problems, and the payment rates for conservation practices. The national and State NRCS offices chose which natural resource problems are the most important for the other 75 points used for ranking.

 

EQIP results data are now housed on the RCA Soil Viewer website, http://soils.usda.gov/survey/rca/viewer

Links to program-specific reports for FY2009 - 2012 are available on this page.

 

 

For more information visit your local USDA Service Center

 

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or www.nrcs.usda.gov/getstarted.

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Contact:

Conor Ward
(402) 437-4112