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Environmental Quality Incentives Program

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The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers and non-industrial forest managers to address natural resource concerns and deliver environmental benefits such as improved water and air quality, conserved ground and surface water, increased soil health and reduced soil erosion and sedimentation, improved or created wildlife habitat, and mitigation against drought and increasing weather volatility.

How It Works

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 and non-industrial forest managers 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.

Benefits

Some of these benefits include:

  • Reduction of contamination from agricultural sources, such as animal feeding operations.
  • Efficient utilization of nutrients, reducing input costs and reduction in nonpoint source pollution.
  • Increased soil health to help mitigate against increasing weather volatility and improved drought resiliency.

2018 Farm Bill EQIP Updates

Historically underserved (HU) participants are eligible for advance payments to help offset costs related to purchasing materials or contracting services through EQIP.  HU participants may elect to receive an advance of not less than 50 percent of the EQIP conservation practice payment amount.  Participants who receive advance payment must expend the funds within 90 days of receiving the advance.

The 2018 Farm Bill expanded eligibility criteria to allow water management entities who assist private agricultural producers with managing water distribution or conservation systems to apply for EQIP.  These entities are defined as State, irrigation district, ground water management district, acequia, land grant-merced, or similar entity that has jurisdiction or responsibilities related to water delivery or management to eligible lands.

The 2018 Farm Bill requires that nationally 10 percent of mandatory program funding be targeted towards source water protection.  States will identify priority source water protection areas and may offer increased incentives and higher payment rates for practices that address water quality and/or water quantity.  

Beginning in 2020, States may provide increased payment rates for high-priority practices.  In consultations with the State Technical Committee, State Conservationists may designate up to 10 practices to be eligible for increased payments.  Eligible high-priority practices include those that address specific causes of ground or surface water impairment relating to excessive nutrients, address the conservation of water to advance drought mitigation and declining aquifers, meet other environmental priorities and priority resource concerns identified in habitat or area restoration plans, or is geographically targeted to address a natural resource concern in a specific watershed.

Climate-Smart Agriculture and Forestry EQIP Signup - Pilot for 2021

NRCS is providing $10 million to support climate-smart agriculture and forestry through a targeted EQIP signup in Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. States were selected based on demonstrated demand for additional support for climate-smart practices. This pilot will be expanded through a comprehensive effort across all states and programs to support farmers, ranchers and forest landowners in fiscal year 2022.

While NRCS offers a broad array of conservation practices, the agency identifies a sub-set as critical for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, sequestering carbon and ultimately mitigating the impacts of climate change. These climate-smart conservation practices are prioritized in this targeted EQIP signup period and support systems for:

  • Building soil health.
  • Improving nitrogen management.
  • Improving livestock waste management systems.
  • Enhancing grazing and pasture management.
  • Improving agroforestry, forestry and upland wildlife habitat.
  • Improving conservation management for rice production.

A list of the specific climate-smart conservation practices is outlined below.

Climate Change Mitigation Practice Categories and the Conservation Practices for Each Category.

Soil Health Nitrogen Management Livestock Partnership Grazing and Pasture Agroforestry, Forestry and Upland Wildlife Habitat            Rice
Conservation Cover (ac) Nutrient Management (ac) Anaerobic Digester (no.) Forage and Biomass Planting (ac) Windbreaks and Shelterbelts (ft) Alternate Wetting and Drying (ac)
Conservation Crop Rotation (ac)     Prescribed Grazing (ac) Silvopasture Establishment (ac) Row Rice (ac)
Residue and Tillage Management, No Till (ac)     Range Planting (ac) Riparian Herbaceous Buffer (ac)  
Contour Farming (ac)       Riparian Forest Buffer (ac)  
Contour Buffer Strips (ac)       Tree and Shrub Establishment (ac)  
Cover Crop (ac)       Upland Wildlife Habitat (ac)  
Residue and Tillage Management Reduced Till (ac)       Windbreak Renovation (ft)  
Field Border (ac)          
Filter Strips (ac)          
Grassed Waterways (ac)          
Strip cropping (ac)          
Vegetative Barriers (ft)          
Herbaceous Wind Barriers (ft)          

Producers are encouraged to contact the NRCS office at their local USDA Service Center to learn about specific practices of focus in their state, state-level signup deadlines, and to submit an application.

EQIP Conservation Incentive Contracts - Pilot for 2021

Conservation Incentive Contracts are an option that blend EQIP and the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) by providing financial assistance to adopt conservation activities on working landscapes.

In fiscal year 2021, Conservation Incentive Contracts are available to producers in Arizona, California, Colorado and Oregon. NRCS will roll out nationwide in fiscal year 2022, using this four-state effort to refine implementation of this new option. For more information, read the June 10, 2021 news release.

The 2018 Farm Bill created the new Conservation Incentive Contracts option to address high-priority conservation and natural resources concerns.

Through 5- to 10-year contracts, producers manage, maintain and address important natural resource concerns and build on existing conservation efforts.

Visit the 2018 Farm Bill Programs page for more information about other NRCS conservation opportunities.

Popular Practices

Cover Crops Button Forest Stand Improvement Button Prescribed Grazing button Irrigation Button

EQIP Initiatives

Targeted EQIP financial assistance is available through several programmatic and landscape conservation initiatives. These initiatives address priority natural resource concerns on the most vulnerable lands, target conservation assistance in high priority watersheds, or help stimulate the development and adoption of innovation and technology. Learn about Landscape Conservation Initiatives here.

How To Get Started

To learn more about EQIP, contact your local NRCS office. An 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 that improve or protect the natural resource conditions on your land. Please visit the Apply for EQIP page for more information on to how apply.

High Tunnel Initiative Organic Initiative Air Quality Initiative Landscape Initiative
       
On Farm Energy Initiative CIG Button Colorado River  

 

EQIP Data, 2009 - Present

NRCS program results data are housed on the RCA Data Viewer. EQIP data for FY2009 to the present are available on the EQIP data page.