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Environmental Quality Incentives Program

Environmental Quality Incentive Program

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The 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 and forest land owners can receive financial and technical assistance to implement structural, vegetative and management conservation practices that optimize environmental benefits on working agricultural and forest land.


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

Applicants must:  

  • Control or own eligible land
  • Comply with adjusted gross income limitation (AGI) provisions
  • Be in compliance with the highly erodible land and wetland conservation requirements
  • Develop an NRCS EQIP plan of operations

Additional program requirements may apply. 

EQIP Program options and Payment Rates

Pennsylvania EQIP Program Options

2020 Pennsylvania Payment Schedule

Application Information

EQIP applications are accepted on a continuous basis; however, NRCS establishes "cut-off" or submission deadline dates for evaluation, ranking and approval of eligible applications. EQIP is open to all agricultural producers including operators of non-industrial private forestland, or landowners of these lands. Submitted applications may be considered or evaluated in multiple funding pool opportunities.

Applications submitted by March 20, 2020 will be evaluated to be considered for funding in Fiscal Year 2020.  Applications received after that date will be accepted and evaluated for future rounds of funding.

To learn how to get started with NRCS, visit

To apply for EQIP, visit your local service center or Get Started with NRCS.

Socially Disadvantaged, Beginning, and Limited Resource Farmers/Ranchers, Military Veteran Farmers

The 2018 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.

Pennsylvania 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:

  1. Reductions of non-point 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

  2. Conservation of ground and surface water resources

  3. Reduction of emissions, such as particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds, and ozone precursors that contribute to air quality impairment violations of National Ambient Air Quality Standards

  4. Reduction in soil erosion and sedimentation on agricultural land

  5. Promotion of at-risk species habitat conservation including development and improvement of wildlife habitat

  6. 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

  7. Biological carbon storage and sequestration

In addition, Pennsylvania has identified the following priorities:

  1. Livestock: address natural resource concerns related to storage, treatment, and management of animal waste.

  2. Cropland: assist producers with resource concerns on cropland such as soil quality, erosion control, and with water conservation on irrigated cropland.

  3. Water Quality: assist producers with installing conservation practices such as Waste Storage Structures, Heavy Use Area Protection, Riparian Buffers, Cover Crops, Filter strips and Waterways to address phosphorus, bacteria, and sediment impairments which may be caused by soil erosion, exposed soil, and lack of riparian buffers and filter strips.       

  4. Erosion control: producers with non-industrial private forestland may receive financial assistance to develop a forest stewardship plan or to implement practices within an approved forest stewardship plan.

  5. Wildlife habitat enhancement: Pennsylvania targets Golden Winged Warbler and Bog Turtle Habitat improvements to reverse the decline and benefit other species with similar habitat needs.

(For information on RCPP-EQIP opportunities, go to the RCPP page.)


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 offsite link image     to learn about specific practices of focus in their state, state-level signup deadlines, and to submit an application.

For more information, please contact:

Scott Heckman
Assistant State Conservationist for Programs
(717) 237-2216

Last updated:  May 16, 2022