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News Release

Sign Up Now for 2018 Environmental Quality Incentives Program

Julie Hawkins

Richmond, VA, September 8, 2017 – Virginia farmers and forest landowners can now apply for assistance to protect the health and productivity of their land under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) administered through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

This popular 2014 Farm Bill program offers technical and financial assistance to plan and install conservation practices on cropland, pastureland, and non-industrial private forestland. NRCS accepts applications year-round but makes funding selections at specific times. For Fiscal Year 2018, Virginia NRCS has established two application-batching periods:

Application Batching Period Application Deadline Batching Deadline
1 October 20th, 2017 November 17th, 2017
2 January 19th, 2018 February 16th, 2018

To be considered for a given Application Batching Period, an applicant MUST submit a signed and dated Conservation Program Application to the local NRCS service center by close of business on the application deadline. NRCS will not accept applications from individuals/entities without farm records established through USDA’s Farm Service Agency. The name, tax identification number, and address provided must also match IRS income tax records.

At least five percent of EQIP funding will be allocated to socially disadvantaged and new and beginning farmers who will be eligible for a higher payment rate along with limited resource producers. Veteran farmers who are also new or beginning farmers also receive the higher payment rate and will be funded first.

At least sixty percent of available FY18 funds will be allocated to livestock-related resource concerns and a minimum of five percent will be committed for wildlife concerns. Special EQIP fund pools will also be available to offer technical and financial assistance for the following focal areas as well as a number of landscape based initiatives:

  • Cropland – Practices to enhance water and soil quality while improving plant health and productivity;
  • High Tunnel (Hoop House) – Steel-framed, polyethylene-covered structures to extend the growing season in an environmentally safe manner; 
  • Longleaf Pine - Stand establishment and management within the historical range in Southeastern Virginia; 
  • Northern Bobwhite in Working Grasslands – Native grass restoration to address habitat loss while maintaining or improving cattle production on the land;
  • National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI) – Targeted practices to clean up impaired streams and improve aquatic habitats. Watersheds eligible for this fund pool are War Branch and Mountain Run in Rockingham County and Gap Creek in Rockingham and Shenandoah County;
  • On-Farm Energy – Agricultural Energy Management Plans (AgEMP) or farm energy audits to assess energy use and recommend ways to reduce it;
  • Organic – Practices to help certified organic growers, those working to achieve organic certification, and specialty crop producers address resource concerns on their operations.

Applicants must meet USDA program eligibility requirements to be considered for funding. Those approved for financial assistance will receive a payment based on an NRCS determination of incurred costs and income sacrificed for practice implementation. If you previously applied for EQIP and were not funded, contact your local NRCS Service Center for more information.

Call or visit your local NRCS office to learn more about how EQIP and other Farm Bill programs can help you better protect and manage natural resources on your land. Visit for USDA service center locations. General program information is available on the NRCS Virginia website at