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2015 Environmental Quality Incentives Program

Solar-powered stock tank with cattle on rangeland

What's New in EQIP?


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

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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.

To be considered for fiscal year 2016 funding, applications must have been submitted by June 1, 2015. Applications received after that date will be accepted and evaluated for future rounds of funding.

Application cut-off dates for fiscal year 2015 funding varied according to funding pools.  See Fiscal Year 2015 EQIP Deadlines and funding pools for details.

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:  

Starting a practice prior to written contract approval will result in the ineligibility of that practice for EQIP assistance. 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.

If your business or organization plans to apply for conservation program or grant funding through USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and you use an Employer Identification Number (EIN), also referred to as a Tax Identification Number (TIN), you will need to obtain a Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number and be registered with the System for Award Management (SAM). Read the following for details:

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.

Montana 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.

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, Montana has identified the following priorities:

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

Fiscal Year 2015 EQIP Deadlines

Applications submitted by June 1, 2014 will be evaluated to be considered for funding in fiscal year 2015. Applications received after that date will be accepted and evaluated for future rounds of funding. Applications for some fiscal year 2015 EQIP special initiatives have later submission deadlines. See the Initiative Funding Pools table for specific dates.

Montana EQIP Funding Pools and Ranking Documents

  • FY 2015 EQIP Practices and Payment Rates (PDF, 462 KB) apply to all funding pools except Seasonal High Tunnel Initiative, On-Farm Energy Initiatives, and Prairie Pothole Wetlands and Grasslands Retention Project.

Montana Funding Pools


Ranking Documents

Application Deadlines

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. The funding pool is managed on an area-wide basis, so applicants within an NRCS Area are competing against each other.

  • Bozeman Area
  • Great Falls Area
  • Missoula Area
  • Miles City Area

Map of NRCS Areas

June 1, 2014

Beginning Farmer and Rancher/Socially Disadvantaged Producer

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

  • Non-Tribal
  • Tribal - Blackfeet
  • Tribal - Crow, Northern Cheyenne, Fort Peck, Rocky Boy
  • Tribal - Confederated Salish and Kootenai tribes
  • Tribal - Fort Belknap


June 1, 2014

Confined Livestock & Manure Management

The Confined Livestock funding pool to address resource concerns related to the storage, treatment, and management of animal waste.

  • Animal Feeding Operation/Confined Animal Feeding Operation (AFO/CAFO)


June 1, 2014

Wildlife Habitat Conservation

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

  • Sage-Grouse Initiative


June 1, 2014

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 watershed:

More information on the NWQI webpage.

For Montana information contact Justin Meissner 406-266-3146 ext. 103.

September 15, 2014

Initiative Funding Pools


Ranking Documents

Application Deadlines

Organic Initiative

The Organic Initiatives provide 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. Montana has two categories in this funding pool:

  • Certified Organic
  • Organic Transition

Certified Organic Ranking
(PDF; 78 KB)

Organic Transition Ranking (PDF; 18 KB)

Practices and Payment Rates (PDF, 243 KB)

February 20, 2015

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.

High Tunnel System Ranking (PDF; 72 KB)

Practices for High Tunnel System

Payment Rates (PDF, 243 KB)

February 20, 2015

On-Farm Energy

The On-Farm Energy Initiatives enable 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. Montana has two categories in this funding pool:

  • On-Farm Energy
  • On-Farm Energy Conservation Activity Plans (CAPs)

On-Farm Energy Ranking
(PDF, 11 KB)

On-Farm Energy CAPs Ranking (11 KB)

February 20, 2015

Special Project Funding Pools


Ranking Documents

Application Deadlines

Montana Prairie Pothole Wetland and Grassland Retention Project (PPWGRP)

The PPWPRG is only available in the Prairie Pothole region, and in Montana will be limited to Blaine, Cascade (North of the Missouri River), Chouteau, Daniels, Glacier, Hill, Lewis and Clark (east of the divide and north of the Dearborn River), Liberty, Phillips, Pondera, Roosevelt, Sheridan, Teton, Toole, and Valley Counties.

PPWPRG Ranking (PDF; 11 KB)

Practices for PPWPRG

Payment Rates (PDF, 243 KB)

February 20, 2015

Tenmile Creek Forestry Project

The Tenmile Creek Forestry Project is available in a limited area. This project is part of the Chiefs' Joint Landscape Restoration Partnership. For more information contact Jon George 406-449-5000 ext. 101.


May 1, 2015

Lower Yellowstone Irrigation Project (LYIP)

The LYIP is available in the Lower Yellowstone Irrigation Project area in Dawson and Richland Counties. For more information contact the Sidney NRCS Field Office at 406-433-2103.


February 20, 2015

Gallatin Valley Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) Project Funding is available to landowners and producers through the EQIP to implement farming and ranching practices that protect and enhance water quality, soil health and water quantity.

Gallatin Valley RCPP Ranking (PDF; 312 KB)

Practices and Payment Rates (PDF, 243 KB)

March 20, 2015

(August 1, 2015 for FY2016 applications)


Jeanne LaSorte, Program Specialist
Phone: 406-587-6849
Email: Jeanne.LaSorte

Erik Suffridge, Assistant State Conservationist for Programs
Phone: 406-587-6873
Email: Erik.Suffridge