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Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)

Herding Cattle



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 (How and Where to Apply, Forms Needed to Sign Up) 

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. The following document describes how to apply for Farm Bill programs or visit the following website: Get started with NRCS national page

To learn how to get started with NRCS, visit

To apply for EQIP,  interested farmers and forestland owners should contact their local NRCS Field Office. Eligible applicants wishing to participate in an EQIP contract must submit form NRCS-CPA-1200 "Application".

See the EQIP Application Materials and Documents page to download required forms and other program materials.


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

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.

Socially Disadvantaged, Beginning, and Limited Resource Farmers/Ranchers, Military Veteran Farmers

The 2018 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.

Rhode Island 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.

Small and Limited and Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Web site Definitions

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, Rhode Island has identified the following priorities:

  1. Forest management for timber production, wildlife, or water quality improvement.
  2. Grazing management: fencing, stockwater systems, range and pasture planting
  3. Nutrient management: manure storage structures, planned nutrient applications, soil testing
  4. Pest management: crop and pest monitoring activities
  5. Erosion control: grade control structures, diversions, water and sediment control basins
  6. Wildlife habitat enhancement: stream buffers, upland wildlife habitat establishment

Decision Making Process for EQIP

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

Rhode Island EQIP Funding Pools and Ranking Documents

You may choose to compete in one or more statewide funding pools based on the predominant land use and type of conservation project being proposed for funding.

Rhode Island Payment Schedules, Practice Scenarios, and Funding Pool Guide

Funding Pool Screening Documents

Rhode Island Funding Pools and Ranking Questions


Beginning Farmer

Ranking Questions

This sub-account is for applicants who certify as Beginning Farmers according to information provided at:

Beginning Farmers

These are landowners who have been engaged in farming or ranching for 10 years or fewer.  For applicant applying for forestry practice you must have owned the land for 10 or fewer years. Eligible conservation practices for this sub-account include all practice offered for EQIP in 2018.


Socially Disadvantaged Producer

Ranking Questions

This sub-account is for applicants who certify as Socially Disadvantaged according to information provided at:

Socially Disadvantaged Producer

Eligible conservation practices for this sub-account include all practice offered for EQIP.


Ranking Questions

This sub-account is for applicants enrolling to complete forest management practices that will be implemented based on a certified forest management or stewardship plan.

Ag Land, Farmstead, Pasture, Cropland

Ranking Questions


This sub-account if for Agricultural Land applicants whose operations can include livestock production, pasture management, or crop production, which incudes vegetables, nursery, orchards, turf, and other specialty crops. This would include dairy farms and operations that raise beef, sheep, goats, alpacas or other livestock. Conservation practices that may be included in these conservation plans include waste storage structures, compost facilities, heavy use areas, comprehensive nutrient management plans, fencing for rotational grazing, watering facilities, access control, brush management, erosion control practices, conservation irrigation, pest and nutrient management, and access control.

Conservation Activity Plan (CAP)-Select for Additional Info

Ranking Questions

EQIP funding is available for the development of a Conservation Activity Plan (CAP). A CAP can be developed for producers to identify conservation practices needed to address a specific natural resource need. Typically, these plans are specific to certain kinds of land use such as transitioning to organic operations, grazing land, forest land, or can also address a specific resource need such a plan for management of nutrients.


RCPP Funding Pools and Ranking Questions



Wildlife Management Institute (WMI) Young Forest Initiative

Ranking Questions


This project will help increase technical and financial assistance to non-industrial private forestland owners who implement practices outlined in the Environmental Quality  Incentives Program that result in an increase in the quantity and quality of young forest habitats. This support is critical, since young forest habitat is necessary to meet the critical needs of several recognized at-risk species.

RISCC Enhancing Soil Health in RI

Ranking Questions

Healthy soils are the cornerstone to sustainable food production and clean waters, and this project intends to convey the importance of healthy soils while assisting RI agricultural producers with the first steps toward improving their farm's soil health. Partners will develop criteria for Soil Health Management Conservation Activity Plans (SHMcaps) and choose two pilot farms. SHMcaps will include criteria that standardizes a format for summarizing results from the farm's soil health testing, identifies various systems of BMPs that will improve the farm's soil & plant health, reduce soil erosion and improve water quality and provides implementation schedules that meet the farm's objectives. Implementation of the SHMcap will resolve pinpointed soil health limitations and ultimately enhance farm production and soil function, while improving water
quality throughout the state.

URI Protecting Source Waters of RI

Ranking Questions 


Partners Protecting Source Waters of RI is a statewide effort to address Rhode Island's state-identified resource concerns.  The central concern addressed through organizational efforts will be improved water quality, with resulting benefits to soil health and water quantity. The project objectives will be documented on a monthly basis, with quarterly reports. Partners will perform bi-annual evaluations of project successes and planned timeframes. The primary objective of this project is to reduce the impact of non-point source pollution on the source water within the priority watersheds by increasing the number and effectiveness of conservation practices by which agricultural and forest lands are managed on private and public lands. Within each watershed, improved water quality, improved soil health and increased water availability will be a result of heightened land management practices.

Initiative Funding Pools



National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI) - Select for additional info 

Ranking Questions

NWQI helps producers implement conservation systems to reduce nitrogen, phosphorous, sediment and pathogen contributions from agricultural land in the following watersheds:

  • Sakonnet River Watershed

  • Tomaquag Brook-Pawcatuck River  Watershed

  • Upper East Passage Watershed

Organic Initiative/Transition to Organic- Select for additional info 

Organic Ranking Questions

Transition to Organic Ranking Questions 


This sub-account is for applicants who are certified organic operations or are transitioning to an organic operation. Applicants must be registered with the RIDEM Division of Agriculture. Conservation practices for these conservation plans will focus on practices that are used on organic farms, however, applicants will have the opportunity to select any practice that addresses a resource concern on their operation. Some practice are paid at higher rates to allow for loss of income or specialty materials that required higher costs.

Seasonal High Tunnels Web Page - Select for additional info 

Ranking Questions

The purpose of the Seasonal 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.There is a limited suite of conservation practices for this code. They include seasonal high tunnel, conservation cover, and mulching.

Oyster Reef Restoration

Ranking Questions

The Oyster Reef Restoration Initiative provides financial assistance to help implement conservation practices to create oyster reefs to improve water quality and encourage the development of wildlife habitat. 

New England Cottontail Rabbit Web Page- Select for additional info

Ranking Questions

A priority of EQIP is for the promotion of at-risk species habitat conservation. The New England cottontail rabbit funding pool is available to Rhode Island producers who will restore, develop, or enhance wildlife habitat for the New England cottontail rabbit.

On-Farm Energy

Ranking Questions

The On-Farm Energy Initiative enables 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.