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Small & Limited and Beginning Farmers & Ranchers

Conservation Opportunities Brochure (PDF; 1Mb)


Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)

EQIP is a voluntary conservation program that promotes environmental quality and assists producers to meet local, state, and federal regulations. 

Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP)

WHIP is a voluntary program that assists landowners and other participants who want to develop or enhance aquatic or terrestrial wildlife habitat on private land. Participants can receive both technical and financial assistance to improve or develop terrestrial or aquatic habitat on their land. Most land is eligible for WHIP, which provides the opportunity to improve wildlife habitat on land that may not be eligible for other programs.

EQIP and WHIP allows Socially Disadvantaged Farmers, Beginning Farmers, as well as Limited Resource Farmers an increase in financial assistance. However, all contract participants must meet the requirements in order for the contract to receive additional financial assistance. Review the criteria to determine if you might be eligible. If you feel that you are eligible, you will be able to certify as such on your EQIP or WHIP application. 

You will need to choose whether your application will be ranked under the ranking category specifically set aside for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers, Beginning Farmers, or Limited Resource Farmers or ranked under the resource concern that is being treated on your land.

A Socially Disadvantaged Farmer is someone who:

Is an individual or entity who is a member of a socially disadvantaged group. For an entity, at least 50 percent ownership in the farm business must be held by socially disadvantaged individuals. A socially disadvantaged group is a group whose members have been subject to racial or ethnic prejudice because of their identity as members of a group without regard to their individual qualities. These groups consist of the following:

  • American Indians or Alaskan Natives
  • Asians
  • Blacks or African Americans
  • Native Hawaiians or other Pacific Islanders
  • Hispanics

A Beginning Farmer means an individual or entity who:

Has not operated a farm or who has operated a farm for not more than 10 consecutive years. This requirement applies to all members of an entity, and who will materially and substantially participate in the operation of the farm or ranch.  In the case of a contract with an individual, individually or with the immediate family, material and substantial participation requires that the individual provide substantial day-to-day labor and management of the farm, consistent with the practices in the county or state where the farm is located. In the case of a contract with an entity, all members must materially and substantially participate in the operation of the farm or ranch. Material and substantial participation requires that each of the members provide some amount of the management or labor and management necessary for day-to-day activities, such as if each of the members did not provide these inputs, operation of the farm would be seriously impaired.

A Limited Resource Farmer is a participant:

With direct or indirect gross farm sales not more than the current indexed value in each of the previous two years, and who has a total household income at or below the national poverty level for a family of four, or less than 50 percent of county median household income in each of the previous two years.