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Environmental Quality Incentives Program

EQIP BannerThe 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.

Learn how to Get Started with NRCS

To apply for EQIP, contact your local service center.

CPA-1200 NRCS Conservation Program Application (PDF, 49KB) 


Agricultural producers and owners of non-industrial private forest land and Tribes are eligible to apply for EQIP. Eligible land includes cropland, rangeland, pastureland, non-industrial private forest land and other farm or ranch lands.

Applicants must:

  1. Control or own eligible land
  2. Comply with adjusted gross income limitation (AGI) provisions
  3. Be in compliance with the highly erodible land and wetland conservation requirements
  4. 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.

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.

Colorado 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:

  • 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.
  • Conservation of ground and surface water resources.
  • 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.
  • Reduction in soil erosion and sedimentation from unacceptable levels on agricultural land.
  • Promotion of at-risk species habitat conservation including development and improvement of wildlife habitat.
  • 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
  • Biological carbon storage and sequestration.

In addition, Colorado has identified the following priorities:

  • Water Quality and Quantity: irrigation systems, water control structures and irrigation water management
  • Grazing management: fencing, stockwater systems, range and pasture planting
  • Nutrient management: manure storage structures, planned nutrient applications, soil testing
  • Soil Health: conservation crop rotation, cover crops and conservation tillage
  • Wildlife habitat enhancement: buffer practices, upland wildlife habitat establishment
  • Forest Health: forest timber removal and woody residue treatment

Decision Making Process for EQIP

Input from Outside Groups, Agencies, and Citizens: The list of eligible practices in Colorado, 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 agribusiness, producer groups, conservation organizations, and federal, state, and tribal government agency representatives.

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 20189 EQIP Deadlines

Applications submitted by October 19, 2018 will be evaluated to be considered for funding in fiscal year (FY) 2019. Applications received after that date will be accepted and evaluated for future rounds of funding.

Visit your local USDA Service Center to apply, or visit Get Started with NRCS.  

General EQIP​ Screening

Colorado EQIP Funding Pools/Ranking Documents and Screening Tools

Air Quality Initiative | Beginning Farmer/Rancher & Socially Disadvantaged Colorado River Salinity Program | Confined Livestock & Manure Management | Conservation Activity Plan | Forest Health | Grazing Land Operations | High Tunnel | National Water Quality Initiative | Ogallala Aquifer Initiative (OAI) | On-Farm Energy | Organic Initiative |  Soil Health | Strikeforce | Water Quality & Quantity | Wildlife Habitat | WLFW Cutthroat Trout | WLFW Lesser Prairie Chicken Initiative | WLFW Sage Grouse Initiative | WLFW Southwestern Willow Flycatcher                                                            

Colorado Funding Pool

(links to more information)


FY19 Ranking and Screening Criteria

Air Quality Initiative (AQI)

This initiative provides eligible landowners and producers with financial and technical assistance to implement cost effective and innovative practices to improve air quality in Colorado.

Colorado AQI Eligible Counties (PDF, 372KB)


Beginning Farmer Rancher (BFR) and Socially Disadvantaged Producer (SDFR) – Grazing Land Operations

The primary focus of these funding pools are to assist socially disadvantaged, beginning, and limited resource farmers/ranchers, Veteran farmers address resource concerns on livestock operations. 

BFR-LRF – Grazing Land 

SDFR – Grazing Land 

Beginning Farmer Rancher (BFR) and Socially Disadvantaged Producers (SDFR) – Water Quality and Quantity

The primary focus of these funding pools are to assist socially disadvantaged, beginning, and limited resource farmers/ranchers, Veteran farmers address resource concerns on irrigated cropland operations.



Colorado River Salinity Program

The purpose of the Colorado River Salinity Program is to reduce salt loading from cropland within the Colorado River Basin. Funding is offered within designated project areas.

Colorado River Basin - Outside Project Area 

Lower Gunnison PA-Delta 

Lower Gunnison PA–Montrose 




Wildlife Habitat Improvement 

Confined Livestock & Manure Management

The Confined Livestock funding pool addresses resource concerns related to the storage, treatment, and management of animal waste.

Animal Waste 

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.




Forest Health

Funding is for producers with non-industrial private forest land to address forest health and mitigate the risks of wildfire.

Forest Health - West Slope 

Forest Health - East Slope 

Grazing Land Operations

The grazing land fund pool addresses natural resource concerns on operations involving production of livestock. Colorado offers this funding pool on a watershed basis.

What watershed am I in? 

Colorado River 


Lower Arkansas 

Lower South Platte 

North Platte-White Yampa


Rio Grande 

San Juan 

Upper Arkansas 

Upper South Platte 

High Tunnel

The purpose of the 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.

High Tunnel 

National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI)

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

Upper Grape Creek Watershed

NWQI Upper Grape Creek Ranking

NWQI Screening 

Ogallala Aquifer Initiative (OAI)

The Ogallala Aquifer Initiative (OAI) aims to assist eligible producers within the Ogallala Region to conserve water and improve water quality.

OAI Ranking 

OAI Screening

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.

On-Farm Energy Ranking 

On-Farm Energy Screening

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.

Organic Transition 

Organic Certified

Soil Health A growing number of America’s farmers are using soil health management systems to improve the health and function of their soil—and we’re working hand-in-hand with these producers through our technical and financial assistance programs and services to help ensure their success. 

Colorado River 

Gunnison Dolores 

Lower Ark

Lower S. Platte

N. Platte White Yampa

Republican River

Rio Grande

San Juan

Upper Ark

Upper S. Platte


Through StrikeForce, NRCS is working with more farmers and ranchers than ever in communities that face persistent poverty. Specific funding is being used to increase awareness and use of USDA programs in historically underserved customer areas.


Arkansas River Selenium

San Juan-Southern Ute

San Juan-Ute Mountain Ute 

Water Quality & Quantity

Colorado offers this funding pool on a watershed basis to address water quality and quantity resource concerns primarily on irrigated cropland and adjacent areas.

What watershed am I in? (PDF, 653kb)

Colorado River 


Lower Arkansas

Lower South Platte 

North Platte-White Yampa


Rio Grande 

San Juan 

Upper Arkansas 

Upper South Platte 

Wildlife Habitat

A priority of EQIP is for the promotion of at-risk species habitat conservation. The Wildlife Habitat funding pool is available to Colorado producers who will restore, develop, or enhance wildlife habitat.

Wildlife Habitat 

WLFW Cutthroat Trout This Working Lands for Wildlife (WLFW) effort assists landowners and partner organizations to improve habitat conditions across the native cutthroat trout landscape to benefit agricultural operations, recreationists, rural communities and our native fish and wildlife.

Cutthroat Trout Ranking

Cutthroat Trout Screening

WLFW Lesser Prairie Chicken Initiative This Working Lands for Wildlife (WLFW) initiative is to help farmers and ranchers voluntarily create and enhance lesser prairie-chicken habitat and maintain the viability and profitability of their operations.

LPCI Ranking

LPCI Screening

WLFW Sage Grouse Initiative This Working Lands for Wildlife (WLFW) initiative focuses on coordination with ranchers to improve habitat for sage-grouse and promote healthy grazing land conservation practices. SGI 
WLFW Southwestern Willow Flycatcher This Working Lands for Wildlife (WLFW) effort assists landowners restore degraded riparian ecosystems, and is part of the NRCS and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Working Lands for Wildlife partnership to combat the decline of specific wildlife species.

Southwest Willow Flycatcher Ranking 

Southwest Willow Flycatcher Screening

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Eligible Practices and Payment Rates 

The list of eligible practices and rates are provided in the 2019 Payment Schedule. The Payment Schedule identifies practice payment limits that may apply and conditions where the practices may apply.  Contact your local service center for assistance in determining which payment rate would apply to individual projects.

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