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Environmental Quality Incentives Program

Environmental Quality Incentives Program

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



 Fiscal Year 2023 EQIP batching period deadline is Aug. 26, 2022

          
           Maine NRCS 2023 Program Ranking Criteria are pending.
          

NRCS-Maine Program Delivery Schedule for Fiscal Year 2023

AMA/EQIP Screening Tool

Some of the documents below require Adobe Acrobat Reader
 

General EQIP Program Description

The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers in order to address natural resource concerns and deliver environmental benefits such as improved water and air quality, conserved ground and surface water, reduced soil erosion and sedimentation or improved or created wildlife habitat.

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. Socially disadvantaged, beginning and limited resource farmers, Indian tribes and beginning farmers/veterans are eligible for an increased payment rate and may receive advance payment of up to 50 percent to purchase materials and services needed to implement conservation practices included in their EQIP contract.

The Environmental Quality Incentives Program is a voluntary conservation program from the Natural Resources Conservation Service. It supports production agriculture and environmental quality as compatible goals. Through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, agricultural producers may receive financial and technical help with structural and management conservation practices on agricultural land.

The Environmental Quality Incentives Program provides financial assistance in the form of a fixed payment rate for each eligible practice and activity under contract.  The payment rate will be the compensation for the program participant. 

Applications for the EQIP program are accepted on a continuous basis, however, NRCS establishes application “cut-off” dates for evaluation and ranking of eligible applications.  Applicants will be asked to work with NRCS conservation planners to assess resource needs and agree on practices to treat these needs.   
 

Environmental Quality Incentives Program General Program Documents
 

Conservation Planning Activities (CPAs), Design and Implementation Activities (DIAs), and Conservation Evaluation and Monitoring Activities (CEMAs)

Technical service providers (TSP) or other third-party service providers (Providers) for NRCS can carry out planning, design, implementation, and monitoring tasks for NRCS conservation program purposes (previously known as Conservation Activity Plans (CAPs)). NRCS has reorganized and renamed CAPs into three new categories—Conservation Planning Activities (CPAs), Design and Implementation Activities (DIAs), and Conservation Evaluation and Monitoring Activities (CEMAs). NRCS broke these activities out to clarify which phase of the NRCS conservation planning process the TSP/Provider will be supporting.

FY23 EQIP CPAs, DIAs and CEMAs

Maine NRCS will pilot the EQIP Act Now option in FY2023 for Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan (CNMP) planning activities only.  The Act Now option allows for eligible applications to be assessed, ranked, and obligated in the order in which they were submitted to the local NRCS Field Office.  The eligible applications must meet or exceed the set minimum ranking score in order to be considered for this type of obligation process.  More details will be provided.

Climate Smart Agriculture through EQIP

Agricultural producers play a critical role in fostering a healthy environment through climate-smart management practices that conserve natural resources, build healthier soils, sequester carbon, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions including carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and nitrous oxide (N2O). When row crop producers adopt conservation practices such as no-till or plant diverse cover crops, for instance, they’re building healthier soils while also sequestering carbon from the atmosphere.

The application batching period deadline for Climate Smart Agriculture is Aug. 26, 2022.

 

Irrigation Assistance Available Through EQIP

Under the 2008 Farm Bill, priority will be given to water conservation or irrigation efficiency applications that will reduce water sue or where the producer agrees not to use any associated water savings to bring new land under irrigation production.

Maine NRCS will set aside at least $1,000,000 each year in financial assistance funding for eligible applicants across the state.  These dollars will be used to fund projects that address irrigation efficiency and assist producers to comply with Maine Department of Environmental Protection Chapter 587 In-Stream Flows and Lake and Pond Water Levels regulations. 

The signup for irrigation assistance is continuous.  However, the deadline for Fiscal Year 2023 applications is Aug. 26, 2022. 
 
 

On-Farm Energy Initiative

The EQIP On-Farm Energy Initiative enables the producer to identify ways to conserve energy on the farm through an Agricultural Energy Management Plan (AgEMP), also known as an on-farm energy audit; and by providing financial and technical assistance to help the producer implement various measures and practices recommended in an on-farm energy audit.

Applications are accepted on a continuous basis; however, the deadline for the On-Farm Energy Initiative for 2023 funding consideration is Aug. 26, 2022.
 
 
 
 
 
2023 On-Farm Energy Application Ranking Summary (pending)

Organic Agriculture Initiative

Maine has received funds for an organic initiative to encourage more organic agriculture production.  Funding for the initiative is being made available through EQIP.  Successful applicants will receive funding to implement conservation practices that have been identified as needed to improve natural resource conditions.  Not only do these practices offer significant environmental benefits, but they are also important to growers. 

Additional conservation practices eligible to be contracted under the Organic Agriculture Initiative in Maine are listed in the Organic Initiative Payment Schedule.  A link to this payment schedule is provided below.  To access the NRCS Standard and Specification information for these practices, please go to Section IV of the Maine NRCS Electronic Field Office Technical Guide (eFOTG).

If producers who sell less than $5,000 a year wish to use EQIP to implement practices related to organic production, they may do so; however, they are required to implement conservation practices for certified organic production that are consistent with an Organic System Plan (OSP).  Payments are not authorized for activities or practice components which are solely production related and are not linked to an identified resource concern. Payments may not be used for any costs related to organic certification.

National Organic Initiative Fact Sheet (.pdf)

 
2023 EQIP Organic Certified Application Ranking Summary (pending)
 
2023 EQIP Organic Transition Application Ranking Summary (pending)

Organic Initiative Applicant Self-Certification Worksheet
 
 

National Water Quality Initiative

The National Water Quality Initiative will work in priority watersheds to help farmers, ranchers and forest landowners improve water quality and aquatic habitats in impaired streams.  NRCS will help eligible producers implement conservation and management practices through a systems approach to control and trap nutrient and manure runoff.  Qualified producers will receive assistance for installing conservation practices such as cover crops, filter strips and terraces.Interactive Story Map

In Maine, two watersheds were selected to participate in this initiative:  The Cross Lake Watershed in northern Aroostook County and the Sheepscot River Watershed in Lincoln County. Within each of these Watersheds, several sub-watersheds were identified as priority areas as listed below and shown in the overview maps.

Applications are accepted on a continuous basis, however the deadline for 2nd Round of NWQI 2023 funding considerations is Aug. 26, 2022.

National Water Quality Initiative Overview Maps

  • Cross Lake Watershed. Includes Daigle Brook, Dickey Brook and Cross Lake subwatersheds. For more information about applying in this watershed, contact:

         Fort Kent Field Office
         139 Market Street, Suite 106
         Fort Kent, Maine 04743
         (207) 834-3311 x3
  • Sheepscot River Watershed. Includes Sheepscot River and Dyer River subwatersheds. For more information about applying in this watershed, contact:

          Augusta Field Office
         
    2305 North Belfast Ave.
          Augusta, Maine 04330
          (207) 622-7847, x3

           Belfast Field Office
           46 Little River Dr.
           Belfast, Maine 04915
           (207) 338-1964, x3

         
         
    National Water Quality Initiative Application Evaluation and Ranking Tools (AERT)
 
Maine National Water Quality Initiative - Cross Lake Watershed Ranking questions
Maine National Water Quality Initiative - Sheepscot River Watershed Ranking questions
 
Maine National Water Quality Initiative Conservation Activity Plan 

 

Pollinators

Bee on a farm in Lisbon, Maine, May 26, 2016. Photo by Thomas Kielbasa, NRCS-MaineWhether you are a farmer who relies on native bees for pollination, or a forestry producer interested in conservation, consider applying for funding through an NRCS cost-share program today.

Latest news: Bee a pollinator protector

EQIP Pollinator Subaccount Eligible Practice List:

Core Practices:

  • 327-Conservation Cover
  • 328-Conservation Crop Rotation
  • ​647-Early Successional Habitat and Development
  • 386-Field Border
  • 422-Hedgerow Planting
  • 595-Integrated Pest Management
  • 612-Tree/Shrub Establishment   

Supporting Practices:

  • 314-Brush Management
  • 340-Cover Crop
  • 380-Windbreak/Shelterbreak Establishment
  • 649-Structures for Wildlife

2023 EQIP Pollinators Application Ranking Summary (pending)



EQIP State Aquatic Restoration Pool


Description/Summary:

The state aquatic restoration pool provides the opportunity for stream connectivity and or instream habitat projects. This pool is available statewide and focuses on perennial streams lacking appropriate base conditions. The state pool is focused on implementing solutions to two core resource concern practices, with select other supporting practices that may be executed in conjunction with the core practices.

Core Resource Concern for Fiscal Year (FY) 2022:

Aquatic habitat for fish and other organisms AND Terrestrial habitat for wildlife and invertebrates

Additional Resource Concerns

  • Elevated water temperature (where deadwaters will be alleviated)
  • Bank erosion (where plunge pools, undercut banks, etc. will be improved)
  • Classic gully erosion (when fixing erosion associated with the existing roadbed including road “over-topping”).

Core Practices for this RCPP (all applications must include at least one of the below practices:

  • Aquatic Organism Passage (396)
  • Stream Habitat Improvement and Management (395)


Supporting Practices for this RCPP:

Access Road (560)
Application: Will be used for structure approaches
Approval needs:  Any construction of new road will need approval from NRCS state conservationist. 

Obstruction Removal (500)
Application: Needs to be related to construction

Streambank and Shoreline Protection (580)
Application: Needs to be related to construction

Mulching (484)
Application: Needs to be related to construction

Critical Area Planting (342)
Application: Needs to be related to construction

Access Control (472)

Fence (382)
Application: Within construction footprint only.  For example: tying into existing fence

Forest Trails and Landings (655)

Riparian Forest Buffer (391)

Tree/shrub establishment (612)

Wildlife Habitat Planting (420)

Brush Management (314)
Application: For removal of unwanted woody vegetation.  Can be used for early detection - rapid response of spot infestations of invasive species in the immediate vicinity of the crossing where eradication is feasible to prevent spread to nearby areas.  NOt intended for treatment of large-scale infestations where long-term control is not likely.

Herbaceous Weed Treatment (315)
Application: Intended as site preparation for revegetation with appropriate vegetation.  Can be used for early detection - rapid response of spot infestations of invasive species in the immediate vicinity of the crossing where eradication is feasible to prevent spread to nearby areas.  Not intended for treatment of large-scale infestations where long-term control is not likely.

Road/Trail/Landing Closure and Treatment (654)

Stream Habitat Improvement and Management (395)
This practice is capped at 2 acres; for example: if a stream is 15 feet wide and one mile is treated, the practice area is 79,200 square feet or 1.8 acres.

Structure for Water Control (587)

Sheetpile Weir (410)

Stream Crossing (578)

(Printable list)

EQIP Conservation Incentive Contracts (CIC)

  • High priority area will be statewide
  • Relevant land use will be Pasture
  • Priority Resource Concerns:
    • Degraded Plant Condition
    • Concentrated Erosion
    • Field Sediment, Nutrient and Pathogen loss
  • 2 Core Practices
    • 528-Prescribed Grazing
    • 590-Nutrient Management
  • Supporting practices as applicable

EQIP Conservation Incentive contracts (EQIP CIC) delivery details to be determined at this point

Other Information

Maine Water Conservation Application Ranking Summary

Tribal Projects Application Ranking Summary

Socially Disadvantaged Application Ranking Summary

Maine Beginning Farmer Application Ranking Summary

Agricultural Waste

Cropland

High Tunnel

Pasture

Wildlife

 

Maine Electronic Field Office Guide

For more information contact your local USDA Service Center

Statewide Program Contact: Susan Arrants, Assistant State Conservationist for Programs, (207) 990-9564 or susan.arrants@usda.gov.

July 25, 2022