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Environmental Quality Incentives Program

Environmental Quality Incentives Program

The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) was reauthorized by the 2018 Farm Bill to promote agricultural production, forest management, and environmental quality as compatible national goals and to optimize environmental benefits on eligible land with farmers and nonindustrial private forest land owners on a voluntary basis. 


Program Benefits and Practices

Through EQIP, NRCS provides technical and financial assistance to eligible individuals and entities to plan and install conservation practices that benefit soil, water, air, plants and animals. EQIP addresses natural resource concerns including improvement of water quality degradation, water conservation, reducing greenhouse gases, improving wildlife habitat, controlling invasive plant species, and on-farm energy conservation and efficiency.


Conservation Programs and Practices for Aquaculture

In Massachusetts, we also offer EQIP funding to shellfish aquaculture growers on Cape Cod and the islands  to implement best management practices designed to protect wildlife, improve water quality, promote healthy bivalve production and reduce vessel strikes.


Eligibility

EQIP is open to all eligible agricultural producers.  All applications must meet the criteria for both producer eligibility and land eligibility to be considered for funding. 

To be eligible to participate in EQIP:

1. An applicant must:

2. The land being offered into the program must be agricultural land, nonindustrial private forest land or other land on which agricultural products, livestock or forest-related products are produced.


How, when and where should you apply?

Contact your local NRCS field office for help in determining your eligibility for EQIP and instructions on how to submit the NRCS-CPA-1200 application form and other required documents.

See the EQIP Forms and Documents page to download required forms and other program documents.

You may apply for funding under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) at any time throughout the year by visiting your local NRCS field office. Funding decisions will be made monthly and will continue until funds are exhausted.

A conservation plan must be completed before an application can be evaluated and ranked for funding.


Funding Pools

You may choose to compete in one or more statewide funding pools, based on the predominant land use and type of conservation project being proposed for funding. 

FUNDING POOL DESCRIPTION

Conservation Activity Plans

Hire an NRCS certified Technical Service Provider to develop one of the following management plans: 

Conservation Planning Activities

  • Code 102 – Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan (CNMP).
  • Code 106 – Forest Management Plan.
  • Code 116 – Soil Health Management Plan.
  • Code 138 – Conservation Plan Supporting Organic Transition.
  • Code 199 – Conservation Plan.

Design and Implementation Activities

  • Code 101 – Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan (CNMP)
  • Code 120 – Agricultural Energy Design.
  • Code 140 – Transition to Organic Design and Implementation Activity.
  • Code 144 – Fish and Wildlife Habitat Design and Implementation Activity.
  • Code 148 – Pollinator Habitat Design and Implementation Activity.
  • Code 157 – Nutrient Management Design and Implementation Activity.
  • Code 158 – Feed Management Design and Implementation Activity.
  • Code 159 – Grazing Management Design and Implementation Activity.
  • Code 160 – Prescribed Burning Design and Implementation Activity.
  • Code 161 – Pest Management Conservation System Design and Implementation Activity.
  • Code 162 – Soil Health Management Design and Implementation Activity.
  • Code 163 – Irrigation Water Management Design.
  • Code 164 – Drainage Water Management Design.
  • Code 165 – Forest Management Design and Implementation Activity.

Conservation and Evaluation Monitoring Activities

  • Code 207 – Site Assessment and Soil Testing for Contaminants Activity.
  • Code 216 – Soil Health Testing.
  • Code 217 – Soil and Source Testing for Nutrient Management.
  • Code 218 – Carbon Sequestration and Greenhouse Gas Mitigation Assessment.
  • Code 228 – Agricultural Energy Assessment.

Certified Organic and Organic Transition

2018 Farm Bill contracts associated with the National Organic Initiatve may not exceed $140,000 in aggregate with no annual payment limitation.

On-Farm Energy

Contract for an ag-energy management plan, or install energy conservation and efficiency practices such as insulation, greenhouse screens, root zone heat, HE hot water, plate coolers, variable speed drives, evaporators, and ventilation.

General

Offering funds for:

High tunnels - to extend the growing season for high value crops by improving plant and soil quality and reducing nutrient and pesticide transport,

Irrigation - to reduce water usage and increase efficiencies on irrigated land, and

Pollinators - to provide needed habitat improvements to benefit pollinator species.

Cranberries

Addressing irrigation water management and efficiences on cranberry operations.

Shellfish

EQIP funding to shellfish aquaculture growers on Cape Cod and the islands to implement best practices designed to protect wildlife, improve water quality, promote healthy bivalve production and reduce vessel strikes.

New England Cottontail

Habitat creation or enhancement for the New England Cottontail rabbit.

Forest and Wildlife

Forest health, soil health and water quality goals. Prioritizing projects that create vertical and/or horizontal diversity, control invasive plant species, encourage desirable regeneration, or address erosion and water quality. Habitat improvement goals include national or state priority actions (grassland restoration, pitch pine - scrub oak restoration, young forest shrubland restoration, pollinator habitat, aquatic organism passage, riparian buffer establishment); habitat for national or state listed species, or species with declining populations; and invasive plant species control.

Urban Agriculture

Addressing resource concerns on farms located in urban areas.

Soil Health

Classic structural, vegetative and management practices addressing erosion and sedimentation, plant and soil management and water quality.  Includes practices such as nutrient and pest management, cover crop, crop rotation, filter strips and buffers, irrigation water, and residue management.

Livestock

CNMP implementation of barnyard management practices addressing water quality issues through such practices as compost facility, waste storage structure, heavy use area, and runoff management.

Beginning Farmer

All practices are available at an increased payment rate in a separate statewide funding pool.  Definition of Beginner Farmer is someone who has not operated a farm for more than 10 consecutive years.

Socially Disadvantaged

All practices are available at an increased payment rate in a separate statewide funding pool.  Definition of a Socially Disadvantaged Farmer  is someone who has been subjected to racial or ethnic prejudices because of their identity as a member of a group.


Payment Information

See this year's Payment Schedule posted on the EQIP Forms and Documents page.   Practice cost details can be found in the electronic Field Office Technical Guide.


Participant Responsibilities

Applicants are responsible for completing and filing all application and eligibility paperwork as required.  If funded, participants will sign a contract to install the planned conservation practices to NRCS standards and specifications as scheduled.

Starting a practice prior to written contract approval will result in the ineligibility of the practice for EQIP assistance, unless a waiver has been approved.


Historically Underserved Individuals and Groups

Historically underserved producers (limited resource farmers, beginning farmers, socially disadvantaged producers, Tribes and Veterans) may be eligible for increased practice payment rate to support implementation of conservation practices and conservation plans.

Historically underserved producers are also be eligible for advance payments up to 50 percent of the cost needed to purchase materials or contracting services to begin installation of approved conservation practices.


National priorities

The national priorities include soil quality, water quality and quantity, plants, energy, wildlife habitat, air
quality, increased weather volatility, and related natural resource concerns:

  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;
  2. The reduction of surface and ground water contamination;
  3. The reduction of contamination from agricultural sources, such as animal feeding operations;
  4. Conservation of ground and surface water resources, including improvement of irrigation efficiency;
  5. 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 the National AmbientAir Quality Standards;
  6. Reduction in soil erosion and sedimentation from unacceptable levels on eligible land;
  7. Promotion of at-risk species habitat conservation including development and improvement of wildlife
    habitat; and
  8. 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.

State Priorities

Massachusetts top priorities include water quality and quantity, soil health, invasive plants, and wildlife habitat:

  1. Impaired waters (categories 5-4)
  2. Drinking water (groundwater zones 1-2; surface water zones a-b)
  3. Water conservation (stressed basins)
  4. Soil quality and soil health
  5. Invasive Plant Species
  6. At-risk-species habitat conservation

EQIP Contact for Massachusetts

Rita Thibodeau
Assistant State Conservationist for Programs
Phone: 413-253-4379
Email: rita.thibodeau@usda.gov