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Program Documents

Eligibility and Application Process - Environmental Quality Incentives Program

Apply Anytime

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.

What Practices Receive Funding?

installing computer monitoring soil moisture device

With input from the State Technical Committee, NRCS determines the eligible conservation practices used to improve environmental quality both on and off the farm. The resource concerns addressed through EQIP include soil quality, soil erosion, water quality, water quantity, air quality, and animal and plant species of concern. A list of conservation practices was developed to address these resources concerns in New Jersey. Each practice is meant to work in combination with others as part of the total resource management plan on the farm. Implementing conservation practices on your farm may increases your economic flexibility and long term profitability while strengthening your stewardship of natural resources and the environment. Because practices work in concert with one another, practices may address more than one resource concern.

The State Technical Committee has identified the top 4 priority resource concerns:

  1. Water Quality Degradation (nutrients, pesticides, pathogens, temperature, sediment)
  2. Soil Erosion (sheet, rill, concentrated flow)
  3. Soil Quality Degradation (subsidence, compaction, organic matter depletion)
  4. Inadequate Habitat for Fish and Wildlife (habitat degradation)

NRCS has identified the following national priorities, consistent with statutory resource 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
  2. Conservation of ground and surface water resources
  3. Reduction of emissions
  4. Reduction in soil erosion and sedimentation
  5. promotion of at-risk species habitat conservation

Interested applicants can review the program information available on this website and should request a new or updated conservation plan for their farm. An NRCS conservationist will meet with you to evaluate the soil, water, air, plant and animal resources on your property and offer several alternatives to address the resource conditions. The alternatives you decide to use are recorded in your conservation plan which includes a schedule for installation.

A contract offer is developed based on the conservation plan, and is ranked on how well the proposed practices meet national, state, and local environmental objectives, as well as their cost-efficiency. EQIP offers contracts with a maximum term of ten years and a minimum term of one year.

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.

Starting a practice prior to written contract approval will result in the ineligibility of a practice for EQIP assistance. Only practices that an applicant has not already adopted are eligible for EQIP assistance.

Who is Eligible?

Applicants must have current crop and producer records on file with USDA’s Farm Service Agency. They must comply with the adjusted gross income limitation (AGI) provisions and be in compliance with the highly erodible land and wetland conservation requirements. They must own or control the land for the term of the proposed contract, agree to implement specific eligible conservation practices according to the contract schedule, and have an interest in an agricultural operation. There must be an existing resource concern that can be addressed through an NRCS conservation practice.

In order for land to be eligible for an irrigation-related practice in EQIP, including irrigation engines, that land must have been irrigated in two out of the last five years. 

Land is not eligible EQIP if it is currently enrolled in another USDA Farm Bill conservation program such as the Wetland Reserve Easement program (WRE) or the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) for the same practice on the same land. Land is also ineligible if it is used for mitigation purposes, or if it is publicly owned, unless the publicly owned land is part on an eligible operation.

field

Additional restrictions and program requirements may apply.

What are the Payment Rates and Terms?

Individual practice payments rates are calculated as a percentage (45 – 75%) of the typical cost of labor, materials, and equipment to implement the practice in New Jersey. Typical practice implementation scenarios are developed on a national and regional basis. The Mid-Atlantic regional team determines the typical inputs of labor, materials, and equipment to implement a practice in the region. The rates of those inputs are then adjusted for each state within the region. If the applicant is a beginning farmer, socially disadvantaged, or limited resource producer, the rates are 25% higher, up to a maximum of 90% of the typical cost. Payment limitations set by the Farm Bill will be applicable.

Projected payments in the approved conservation program contract are based on practice extent and not cost. Payments are made after conservation practices are implemented to the standards agreed to in advance. The conservation practice standard contains information on why and where the practice is applied, and it sets forth the minimum quality criteria that must be met during the application of that practice in order for it to achieve its intended purpose(s). Conservation payments are set at the time of contracting independent of the actual cost of implementation. It is the responsibility of the contract holder to cover the remaining balance of the practice implementation costs. View the application documents page for more information on the current payment rates.

How Does Signup for EQIP Work?

irrigation in blueberries

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. Funding pools that NRCS has established address management of resources for cropland, livestock, forestland, and wildlife habitat. 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.


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