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Environmental Quality Incentives Program

Environmental Quality Incentives Program - Voluntary Natural Resources Conservation

What's New in EQIP?

(en Español)

FY 2022 Signup

NRCS Caribbean Area will open fiscal year 2022 Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) sign-up on September 20, 2021 with the first cut-off date for funding of October 29, 2021 and a Second cut-off date for funding of April 29, 2022.

General Program Overview

From weather to pests, Caribbean Area farmers face a unique set of challenges. The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural and forestry producers in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) 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, and improved or created wildlife habitat.

Benefits

This voluntary conservation programs helps producers make conservation work for them. Together, NRCS and producers invest in solutions that conserve natural resources for the future while also improving agricultural operations. In FY 2021, 283 farmers in the Caribbean Area signed up about 13,000 acres of farmland in the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, for over $7.9 million.

Through EQIP, NRCS provides farmers with financial resources and one-on-one help to plan and implement conservation practices. Using these practices can lead to cleaner water and air, healthier soil and better wildlife habitat, all while improving agricultural operations. Through EQIP, you can voluntarily implement conservation practices, and NRCS co-invests in these practices with you.

Climate-Smart Agriculture and Forestry Practices

While NRCS offers a broad suite of voluntary conservation practices and enhancements, the agency identifies a sub-set as critical to climate change mitigation. Farmers and landowners interested in climate-smart agriculture and forestry should contact their local NRCS office for additional information, including one-on-one support specific to their operation.

EQIP Conservation Incentive Contracts - NEW!

Conservation Incentive Contracts (CIC) are an option under EQIP, with a focus on Climate-Smart Forestry and Agriculture and Drought Resilience management practices. EQIP-CIC provides financial assistance to adopt conservation activities on working landscapes. Through five to 10-year contracts, farmers manage, maintain and address important natural resource concerns and build on existing conservation efforts. Review the updated fact sheet for details. EQIP-CIC FY 2022 Application cutoff extended to May 6, 2022 - NEW!

How to Apply

The best way to learn if EQIP is a good fit for you is by contacting your local NRCS office. If you choose to move forward, your local NRCS conservationist will guide you through applying for the program. Applications are ranked, and if yours is funded, NRCS will offer you an EQIP contract to receive financial assistance for the cost of implementing practices. Payment rates for conservation practices are reviewed and set each fiscal year. More information on this process is available on our How Do I Apply webpage.

EQIP applications are accepted on a continuous basis, however, NRCS establishes application "cut-off" or submission deadline dates to evaluate, rank and approve eligible applications. EQIP is open to all eligible agricultural producers and submitted applications may be considered or evaluated in multiple funding pool opportunities.

  • EQIP-CIC FY 2022 Application cutoff extended to May 6, 2022 - NEW!
  • EQIP FY 2022 Period 2 Application cutoff - April 29, 2022 - NEW!
  • EQIP FY 2022 Period 1 Application cutoff - October 29, 2021 - CLOSED
  • EQIP-CIC FY 2022 Application cutoff - March 11, 2022 - EXTENDED
  • To learn how to get started with NRCS, visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/getstarted
  • To apply for EQIP, contact your local service center.

Eligibility

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.

Applicants must:

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

Additional restrictions and program requirements may apply. 

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

Historically underserved producers (limited resource farmers/ranchers, beginning farmers/ranchers, socially disadvantaged producers, Tribes and Veterans) may be eligible for increased practice payment rates to help them implement conservation practices and 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. Historically underserved producers can find definitions for each category and additional information here.

EQIP Decision Making Process

The list of eligible practices in the Caribbean Area, 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 agribusinesses, producer groups, conservation organizations, and federal, state, and tribal government agency representatives.

County-level priorities are based on input from Local Working Groups (Grupo de Trabajo Locales, LWG) that provide feedback to each Field Office.

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 2022 EQIP Deadlines

General EQIP EQIP CIC
  • Period 1 Application cutoff - October 29, 2021
  • Eligibility Evaluation and Ranking - December 3, 2021
  • Last Day of Contract Obligation - May 27, 2022
  • Application cutoff - May 6, 2022
  • Eligibility Evaluation and Ranking - June 3, 2022
  • Last Day of Contract Obligation - Aug. 12, 2022
  • Period 2 Application cutoff - April 29, 2022
  • Eligibility Evaluation and Ranking - May 27, 2022
  • Last Day of Contract Obligation - August 26, 2022
 

EQIP applications received after April 29, 2022 and EQIP-CIC applications received after May 6, 2022 will be accepted and evaluated for future rounds of funding.

To apply for EQIP, contact your local service center or Get Started with NRCS!

For More Information

You can also contact your local USDA Service Center or NRCS Field Office or visit the National NRCS website at www.nrcs.usda.gov for more information.

Contact

Javier Cruz, Assistant State Conservationist - Programs, at 787-281-4962 or 787-370-2703