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Program Documents

EQIP Forest Land in New Jersey

forest lane

The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) is a voluntary conservation program for persons who are engaged in livestock, forestry, or agricultural production, including organic production. Forestry is an eligible land use under the EQIP program. EQIP provides payments for implementing conservation practices on forest land that have a positive environmental impact, while protecting long term production and sustainability.

Applicants must have an interest in an agricultural (forestry) operation, have current crop and producer records on file with USDA’s Farm Service Agency, and be compliant with the conservation provisions of the current farm bill. They must own or control the land, and agree to implement conservation practices according to the contract schedule. It is recommended that applicants check with their local NRCS office to confirm that their property is eligible for enrollment in EQIP.

Applicants with forest land must have a Forest Stewardship Plan for their operation prepared by a certified forestry consultant. The Plan must address all resource concerns, including critical wildlife habitat, protection of stream corridors and environmentally sensitive areas.

Don’t Have a Stewardship Plan?

If the potential participant does not have a forest Stewardship Plan, they may sign up for a Conservation Activity Plan to receive financial assistance to have one developed for their operation, that is an NRCS-defined Forest Management (Stewardship) Plan for forestland acreageOnce the Plan is approved by the State Forester, the producer may apply for another EQIP contract to implement practices scheduled in the Plan.

What Practices Receive Funding?

NRCS will review the Forest Stewardship Plan and determine the conservation practices that are recommended to improve environmental quality both on and off site. Eligible practices must reduce soil erosion or sedimentation, promote forest soil quality, enhance habitat for wildlife species of concern, improve ecological conditions or overall forest health. 

Forestry applications will be grouped for competitive ranking into a forestry funding pool, with the highest ranked applications selected for contract development.

Practices may not be started until the contract is signed by NRCS, unless the applicant requests a waiver from the state conservationist.

What are the Payment Rates and Terms?

Program payment rates are calculated at approximately 75% of the typical cost of implementing the practice, as determined by the resource concern being addressed. If the applicant is a beginning farmer, socially disadvantaged, veteran or limited resource producer, the rates are 25% higher, up to a maximum of 90%. Payments are made after conservation practices are implemented to the standards agreed to in advance.

Contracts are subject to payment limitations. No applicant may receive more than $450,000 within a current Farm Bill period.

What is the Contract Period?

Contracts provide pre-determined program payments to the producer for the implementation of the planned practices according to a schedule developed with the producer. Contract lengths are typically 3 to 5 years.

The schedule lists the conservation practice extent (amount), date to be installed, and payment. The practices are subject to NRCS technical standards adapted for local conditions.

EQIP Conservation Practices for Forest Land

Resource Concern

Eligible Practices on Forest Land

Reduce soil erosion or sedimentation Critical Area Planting, Forest Stand Improvement, Streambank and Shoreline Protection, Tree & Shrub Establishment, Forest Trails & Landings
Promote forest soil quality Critical Area Planting, Forest Stand Improvement, Tree & Shrub Establishment
Enhance habitat for wildlife species of concern Access Control, Brush Management, Firebreak, Forest Stand Improvement, Fish Passage, Prescribed Burning, Tree & Shrub Establishment, Tree & Shrub Site Preparation
Improve ecologic conditions for desirable forest species Forest Stand Improvement, Prescribed Burning, Tree & Shrub Establishment, Tree & Shrub Site Preparation

tree cutting in wintry forest

How Does Signup for EQIP Work?

EQIP applications can be submitted anytime during the year. EQIP has a continuous sign-up with application cut-off dates to rank and prioritize any new or unfunded applications. A signed application can be filed with the local NRCS office at any time. View Current Funding Opportunities for current application periods. A signed application indicates an interest in developing a conservation plan, the first step in the application process.

EQIP is a competitive program that uses an evaluation and ranking process to assess the needs and cost effectiveness of implementing the conservation plan. Applications are grouped for competitive ranking into "funding pools" with the highest ranked applications in each pool selected for contract development. View the application documents page for more information on ranking tools.

Contract offers that include practices to address soil quality, soil erosion, water quality, reduced animal waste production and reduced energy consumption are high priority.

Visit Opportunities for Historically Underserved Producers in New Jersey to learn more about how NRCS is committed to ensuring that its programs and services are accessible to all our customers, fairly and equitably, with emphasis on reaching the under served and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers, and tribes of our state.


More Information

updated 2/12/2018

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