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Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) in Wisconsin

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From weather to pests, each American farmer faces a unique set of challenges. The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural and forestry producers to address natural resource concerns and deliver environmental benefits such as improved water and air quality, conserved ground and surface water, reduced soil erosion and sedimentation, and improved or created wildlife habitat.

Benefits

This voluntary conservation programs helps producers make conservation work for them. Together, NRCS and producers invest in solutions that conserve natural resources for the future while also improving agricultural operations. 

Through EQIP, NRCS provides agricultural producers with financial resources and one-on-one help to plan and implement improvements, or what NRCS calls conservation practices. Using these practices can lead to cleaner water and air, healthier soil and better wildlife habitat, all while improving agricultural operations. Through EQIP, you can voluntarily implement conservation practices, and NRCS co-invests in these practices with you.

Program at a Glance

To get started, NRCS first works one-on-one with you to develop a conservation plan that meets your goals and vision for the land. This becomes a roadmap for which conservation practices best meet your needs. 

Financial assistance covers part of the costs from implementing conservation practices. NRCS offers about 200 practices depending on where your land is located. These practices are geared towards working farms, ranches and forests and provide producers with many options for conservation. See a list of practices.  

Popular Practices

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How to Apply

The best way to learn if EQIP is a good fit for you is by contacting your local NRCS office. If you choose to move forward, your local NRCS conservationist will guide you through applying for the program. 

Applications are ranked, and if yours is funded, NRCS will offer you an EQIP contract to receive financial assistance for the cost of implementing practices. Payment rates for conservation practices are reviewed and set each fiscal year. More information on this process is available on our How Do I Apply webpage.

Local Work Group Screening Tools

Screening tools are available for some Local Work Groups in Wisconsin by three topics (cropland, pasture and forest). For more information about your Local Work Group and the screening tools available, click here.


Special Initiative Opportunities

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Farmstead
(Apply by November 20, 2020 for 2021 Funding)

NRCS helps livestock producers improve nutrient handling and clean water separation by implementing practices supporting manure storage, feedlot and barnyard runoff and clean water diversion. This special opportunity also provides technical and financial assistance for roofs and covers placed over, for example, open cattle lots.

Local Bee pollinator

Honey Bee
(Apply by May 21, 2020 for 2021 Funding)

The NRCS is helping farmers and landowners implement conservation practices that provide safe and diverse food sources for honey bees. Pasture management, wildlife habitat and appropriate cover crops are used as tools to improve the health of our honey bees, which support more than $15 billion worth of agricultural production. Funding is available for conservation practices and forage plantings (cover crops, pasture, pollinator seeding mixes) on ag land or wood land (not bees or honey production).

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Landscape Initiatives
(Apply by May 21, 2021 for 2021 Funding)

Landscape initiatives enable NRCS to more effectively address priority natural resource concerns by delivering systems of practices, primarily to the most vulnerable lands within geographic focus areas.

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Local Work Group
(Apply by November 20, 2020 for 2021 Funding)

Wisconsin has 18 Local Work Groups (LWG). Each LWG has a fund pool for cropland, forest and wildlife, and pasture. LWGs collect local stakeholder input and use the feedback to focus on their own local resource concern priorities for each fund pool, making each LWG fund pool unique and locally relevant.

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Soil Health
(Apply by November 20, 2020 for 2021 Funding)

Funding is available to improve soil health through sound principles and systems that include no-till, cover crop, diversifying the crop rotation, and managing nutrients and pesticide applications. Improving soil health of the soil allows for improved soil organic matter, increased water infiltration, as well as better profits and crop yields.

Organic Transition

Organic
(Apply by November 20, 2020 for 2021 Funding)

NRCS helps certified organic growers and producers, working to achieve organic certification, install conservation practices to address resource concerns on organic operations. Funding is available for certified organic producers and those transitioning to organic production. Some individual practices have higher payments, in recognition of the higher cost of organic seeds/fertilizers in an organic system.

Radiant Heater

On-Farm Energy
(Apply by November 20, 2020 for 2021 Funding)

NRCS and producers develop Agricultural Energy Management Plans (AgEMP) or farm energy audits that assess energy consumption on an operation. Audit data is used to plan, develop and implement energy conservation recommendations.

High tunnel

High Tunnel System
(Apply by November 20, 2020 for 2021 Funding)

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.

Source Water Protection

Source Water Protection
(Apply by November 20, 2020 for 2021 Funding)

Source water refers to ground water aquifers, rivers or lakes that provide water to public drinking supplies. Areas in Wisconsin with high concentrations of public water systems experiencing elevated nitrate levels have been identified for eligibility. Specific practices identified as improving nitrate levels are eligible to receive 90% payment rate, such as nutrient management, filter strips, and forage and biomass planting.


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

The 2018 Farm Bill continues to address 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 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. Wisconsin 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.

Conservation Activity Plan

A Conservation Activity Plan or CAP can be developed for producers to identify conservation practices needed to address a specific resource need, such as nutrient management or a herbicide resistance issue. Typically, these plans are specific to certain kinds of land uses, such as Transitioning to Organic Operations, Grazing Land, Forest Land, or Farmsteads. A CAP can also address a specific resource need, such as nutrient management. With a CAP plan, producers can then apply for financial assistance to implement the needed conservation practices, such as pipeline and watering facilities to implement a prescribed grazing plan.

For more information about CAP's, click here

Eligible producers may apply at their local NRCS office. EQIP payments are made directly to the program participants for development of a CAP. These CAP plans may only be developed by an NRCS-certified Technical Service Provider (TSP). To find an NRCS-certified TSP, search the TSP website.

More Information

If you want to learn more about EQIP, you can contact your local NRCS office. Your NRCS conservationist will visit you and evaluate the natural resources on your land. NRCS will then present a variety of conservation practices or system alternatives to help you address those concerns or management goals to improve or protect the natural resource conditions on your land.

Once you have chosen the right conservation practices for your land, you may be offered an EQIP contract to receive financial assistance for the cost of implementing certain practices.  Payment rates for conservation practices are reviewed and set each fiscal year. 

State EQIP Contact: Meagan Duberstein, 715-204-3813 meagan.duberstein@usda.gov