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2014 Environmental Quality Incentives Program

South Carolina FY 2014 EQIP Sign-Up and Application Information

On-Farm Energy, Organic, and Seasonal High Tunnel .

NRCS accepts applications for financial assistance on a continuous basis throughout the year. There will be three ranking periods for the Organic, On-Farm Energy and Seasonal High Tunnel initiatives.  At the end of a ranking period, NRCS ranks all submitted proposals for funding consideration. NRCS will notify all applicants of the results of the rankings and begin developing contracts with selected applicants.

Initiative Overviews

On-Farm Energy Initiative: NRCS and producers develop Agricultural Energy Management Plans (AgEMP) or farm energy audits that assess energy consumption on an operation. NRCS then uses audit data to develop energy conservation recommendations. Each AgEMP has a landscape component that assesses equipment and farming processes and a farm headquarters component that assesses power usage and efficiencies in livestock buildings, grain handling operations, and similar facilities to support the farm operation.

Organic Initiative: NRCS helps certified organic growers and producers working to achieve organic certification install conservation practices for organic production. Applicants will be evaluated continuously during the ranking periods. Applications meeting or exceeding a threshold score may be approved for an EQIP contract before the end of the ranking period. Applications rating below the threshold score will be deferred to the next period. A new threshold score will be established at the beginning of each ranking period. This new scoring process allows organic producers to implement conservation practices in a timelier manner.

Seasonal High Tunnel Pilot Initiative: NRCS helps producers plan and implement high tunnels, steel-framed, polyethylene-covered structures that extend growing seasons in an environmentally safe manner. High tunnel benefits include better plant and soil quality, fewer nutrients and pesticides in the environment, and better air quality due to fewer vehicles being needed to transport crops. More than 4,000 high tunnels have been planned and implemented nationwide through this initiative over the past two years. For more information, contact your local NRCS office.

Conservation Programs Protect Soil, Water, and Wildlife

EQIP helps farmers improve production while protecting environmental quality by addressing such concerns as soil erosion and productivity, grazing management, water quality, animal waste, and forestry concerns. EQIP also assists eligible small-scale farmers who have historically not participated in or ranked high enough to be funded in previous program sign ups. WHIP assists landowners who want to improve wildlife habitat or restore natural ecosystems on their land.

There is a continuous signup for these programs; however, to increase your chances of funding, apply by September 30. Funding selections will be announced in the second quarter of 2013. Producers interested in applying should visit their local USDA Service Center as soon as possible to prepare their applications.

General Program Description

All sign-ups are conducted at USDA Service Centers in South Carolina.

The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) is a voluntary conservation program from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. It supports production agriculture and environmental quality as compatible goals. Through EQIP, farmers may receive financial and technical help with structural and management conservation practices on agricultural land.

EQIP was reauthorized in the 2008 Farm Bill and is administered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

In South Carolina, EQIPwill pay 75 percent of the costs of eligible conservation practices under the general sign-up. Historically Underserved who are Limited Resource, Socially Disadvantaged, and Beginning Farmers are eligible for 90 percent cost share. Those to be considered Socially Disadvantaged for this program are American Indians and Alaskan Natives, Asians, Blacks or African Americans, Hispanics or Native Hawaiians or Pacific Islanders. Incentive payments may be made to encourage a farmer to adopt land management practices, such as nutrient management, manure management, integrated pest management, precision farming, and wildlife habitat management.

Organic Initiative and High Tunnel Study

The 2008 Farm Bill provides specific opportunities for organic producers and those transitioning to organic farming. South Carolina farmers who are transitioning to organic or who are currently certified organic can apply to receive assistance under the Organic Initiative through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Funding is also available through EQIP for a High Tunnel Pilot Study which will enable producers to experiment with structures (also called “hoop houses”) that can help them reduce pesticide use, keep vital nutrients in the soil, extend the growing season, increase yields, and provide other benefits to growers. A number of "core" organic conservation practices may be funded through the EQIP Organic Initiative, including cover crops, conservation crop rotation, prescribed grazing, pest management, nutrient management, and forage harvest management.

More Information about the Organic Initiative in South Carolina

2014 EQIP Program Documents.

The following documents require Adobe Acrobat.

2014 EQIP Cost List (PDF; 260 KB)

EQIP Overview and Application Tools

How EQIP Works in South Carolina


Links to Other Useful Documents for theEQIP Program