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Program Overview

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EQIP provides assistance to farmers and ranchers who face threats to soil, water, air, and related natural resources on their land. Through EQIP, NRCS provides assistance to agricultural producers in a manner that will promote agricultural production and environmental quality as compatible goals, optimize environmental benefits, and help farmers and ranchers meet Federal, State, Tribal, and local environmental requirements.

Historically underserved producers (limited resource farmers/ranchers, beginning farmers/ranchers, socially disadvantaged producers, Veteran Farmers, and Tribes) may be eligible for a higher practice payment rate for the implementation for conservation practices and conservation plans.

Producers may use a certified Technical Service Provider (TSP) for technical assistance needed for certain eligible activities, services and the development of conservation plans.

Historically underserved producers may also be eligible for advance payments up to 50 percent of the cost needed to purchase materials or contracting services to begin installation of approved conservation practices.

The total payment limitation on EQIP payments is $450,000 per individual or entity member for the period from 10/1/2014 to 9/30/2018, regardless of the number of farms or contracts.

NRCS works with the producer to develop a plan of operations that:

  1. Identifies the appropriate conservation practice or measures needed to address identified natural resource concerns
     
  2. Implements conservation practices and activities according to an EQIP plan of operations developed in conjunction with the producer that identifies the appropriate conservation practice or measures needed to address identified natural resource concerns. The practices are subject to NRCS technical standards adapted for local conditions.

EQIP offers contracts with a minimum term that ends when payment is made for the final practice. These contracts provide financial assistance to implement conservation practices. Owners of land in agricultural production or persons who are engaged in livestock or agricultural production on eligible land may participate in the EQIP program. Program practices and activities are carried out according to an EQIP program plan of operations developed in conjunction with the producer that identifies the appropriate conservation practice or measures needed to address the resource concerns. The practices are subject to NRCS technical standards adapted for local conditions.

Local Input

Local input through the State Technical Committee and local work groups help define EQIP resource concerns. Local Work Groups can be established on a county or multi-county basis, with meetings convened by the local county Conservation Districts.  Local Work Groups are an example of locally-led conservation.

The Local Work Group may advise NRCS on a number of EQIP issues including the identification of resource concerns and public outreach and information efforts.  The Local Work Group ensures that a conservation needs assessment is developed using community stakeholders input.  The assessment process helps the Local Work Group identify resource concerns, recommend practices, priorities, payment rates, cost share levels, and funding needs.  Find out about your Local Work Group by contacting your county conservation district.    

To find out more about EQIP and other conservation programs, visit your local USDA Service Center and talk with someone from the Natural Resources Conservation Service, Farm Service Agency, or your local Conservation District.  For office locations, click here.