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Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)

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What's New in EQIP?

Introduction

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

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 www.nrcs.usda.gov/getstarted

To apply for EQIP, contact your local service center.

Eligibility

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.

Note: Notification that starting a practice prior to written contract approval will result in the ineligibility of that practice for EQIP assistance.

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.

West Virginia 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, West Virginia has identified the following priorities:

  1. Grazing management: fencing and stockwater systems
  2. Nutrient management: manure storage structures, planned nutrient applications, soil testing
  3. 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 West Virginia, 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.

Fiscal Year 2018 EQIP Deadlines

Applications submitted by November 3, 2017 will be evaluated to be considered for funding in fiscal year 2018. Applications received after that date will be accepted and evaluated for future rounds of funding.

To apply for EQIP, your local service center Get Started with NRCS - Do you farm or ranch and want to make improvements to the land that you own or lease? NRCS offers technical and financial assistance to help farmers, ranchers and forest landowners. Learn how here.

West Virginia EQIP Funding Pools and Ranking Documents  (11-17-2017)

West Virginia Funding Pools

Descriptions

Ranking Documents

Focused Conservation Approach (FCA)

The primary focus of the FCA funding pool is to address soil erosion and water quality resource concerns on cropland and adjacent incidental areas.

Capitol
Grazing Management
Equine Manure Composting

Eastern Panhandle
Cover Crops
Grazing Management
Pollinators/Habitat

Elk
Grazing Management
Use Exclusion

Greenbrier Valley
Ground Water Quality Improvements
Meadow River - Livestock Water

Guyan
Pasture Soil Health Improvement
Winter Feeding Management

Little Kanawha
Grazing Management
Meadowlark Habitat Management
Winter Feeding Management
Wood Thrush Habitat

Monongahela
Nutrient Management
Pollinator/Habitat

Northern Panhandle
Soil Health & Improvement

Potomac Valley-Eastern Panhandle
Orchard Water Quality

Potomac Valley
Dillons and Edward Run
Grazing Management (Grant, Hardy, & Pendleton)
Grazing Management (Hampshire & Mineral)
Livestock Waste Management
North Fork Stream Restoration
Patterson and New Creek Stream Restoration
Poultry Waste Management

Southern
Grassland - Fayette
Grassland - Summers
Pollinator/Habitat

Tygarts Valley
Pollinator/Habitat
Water Quality Improvement

Upper Ohio
Middle Island Creek Grazing Management

West Fork
Cove Creek - Forest Management
Stockpiling Forage/Winter Feeding Management

Western
Animal Waste Management
Cover Crops
Grazing Management

Forest Management Implementation (FMI)

The Forest Management Implementation (FMI) statewide funding pool is for producers with non-industrial private forestland. The goal of the ranking is to address resource issues where forest-related products are produced.

Ranking
(77.6 kb)

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 West Virginia producers who will restore, develop, or enhance wildlife habitat.

Ranking
(98.5 kb)

Conservation Activity Plan (CAP)

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.

CAP National Page

Ranking
(79.2 kb)

National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI)

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

  • Indian Creek Watershed

More information on the NWQI webpage.

Indian Creek
(101 kb)

Initiative Funding Pools

 

Descriptions

Ranking Documents

Appalachian Ecosystem Restoration Initiative The Appalachian Ecosystem Restoration Initiative is a multi-year partnership between the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to improve the health and resiliency of forest ecosystems where public and private lands meet.

Ranking
(117.0 kb)

Map of Counties
(PDF, 422 kb)

Beginning Farmer 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. Ranking (113 kb)
Golden Winged Warbler Initative (GWWI)

The Golden Winged Warbler Initiative is designed to develop or enhance habitat for this specific species in areas where the elevation is such that further enhancement is likely to increase the Golden Winged Warbler population.  Consideration of other habitat factors favorable to this species are also considered in the ranking of applications for assistance under this initiative.

Ranking (85 kb)

On-Farm Energy

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.

Ranking
(80.6 kb)

Organic Initiative

The Organic Initiative provides 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.

Certified
(115 kb)

Transition
(103 kb)

Seasonal High Tunnels

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.

Ranking
(85.2 kb)

Socially Disadvantaged 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. Ranking (119 kb)
StrikeForce

While poverty is a rural, suburban and urban challenge, the reality is that nearly 85 percent of America's persistent poverty counties are in rural areas. USDA's Strike Force for Rural Growth and Opportunity Initiative is part of our commitment to growing economies, increasing investments and creating opportunities in poverty-stricken rural communities. StrikeForce was officially launched in 2010 as a pilot project in persistent poverty areas in rural Arkansas, Georgia and Mississippi.

In 2012, StrikeForce efforts expanded into persistent poverty counties in Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada. In 2013, Secretary Vilsack announced new efforts to bring the StrikeForce for Rural Growth and Opportunity to Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Virginia. In 2014, Strike Force efforts expanded into Kentucky, Louisiana, Tennessee, and West Virginia. There are now over 700 persistent poverty counties (PDF, 2.2MB), parishes, boroughs, Colonias and tribal reservations in twenty states receiving StrikeForce attention.

Since its inception, StrikeForce has formed over 400 community based partnerships and supported 80,300 projects and opportunities to strengthen America's rural economy.

Ranking
(83.6 kb)

 

Map of Counties
(PDF, 11 kb)