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Environmental Quality Incentives Program

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What's New in EQIP?

USDA Provides $10 Million to Help Caribbean Area Farmers Recover Following Hurricanes

NRCS is providing over $10 million in technical and financial assistance to help farmers in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands repair damage and rebuild following hurricanes Irma and María.

We can help local farmers repair damages to their land and existing conservation practices caused by Hurricanes Irma and Maria,” said NRCS Acting Chief Leonard Jordan. “Through EQIP, we co-invest with farmers to repair and prevent soil erosion, address flooding and other water and air quality issues, as well as any other resource concerns resulting from high rainfall events and flooding.” 

EQIP Funding for Emergency Assistance

To expedite disaster recovery, NRCS is issuing waivers allowing farmers to receive payment and begin implementing emergency conservation practices prior to contract approval. Emergency practices to be funded are:

  • Dead livestock disposal (Practice 368 Info Sheet: English, Spanish)
  • Animal mortality facility construction (Practice 316 Info Sheet: English, Spanish)
  • Replacing roofs and covers on agricultural buildings (Practice 367 Info Sheet: English, Spanish)
  • Clearing and snagging waterways (Practice 326 Info Sheet: English, Spanish)
  • Debris removal (Practice 500 Info Sheet: English, Spanish)

Funding for Reapplication of Failed Conservation Treatment – Destruction of Practices by Hurricanes

  • Active Contract – NRCS can modify existing contracts to repair or reapply a financially-assisted practice that failed for circumstances beyond the participant’s control.
  • Completed Contract – NRCS can execute new contracts to repair or reapply a failed practice installed through a previously-completed EQIP contract. 

Participants must file an EQIP application, a waiver to start a practice, and a conservation plan for NRCS practice certification.

General Program Overview

The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) is a voluntary conservation program reauthorized in the 2014 Farm Bill.  EQIP provides financial and technical assistance to farmers and ranchers to help them install and implement conservation practices on eligible agricultural land. Through EQIP, farmers in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands can receive assistance to improve their agricultural production and environmental quality.

EQIP provides financial assistance payments to all eligible producers based on a portion of the typical costs associated with conservation planning and practice implementation.  EQIP activities are carried out according to a conservation plan that NRCS Field Office staff develop with the producer. The conservation plan identifies the conservation practice or practices the producer needs to address resource concerns identified on the farm. EQIP-funded practices must follow NRCS standards and specifications.

Accepting Applications

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.

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 limitation (AGI) provisions
  • Be in compliance with the highly erodible land and wetland conservation requirements
  • Develop an NRCS EQIP conservation plan

Additional restrictions and program requirements may apply. 

Participant Responsibilities

Applicants are responsible for completing and filing all application and eligibility paperwork as required. If funded, participants are required to sign a contract and agree to implement the planned conservation practices to NRCS standards and specifications as scheduled.  However, if applicants start installing a practice prior to written contract approval, that will result in the ineligibility of that practice for EQIP assistance.

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.

National and State Priorities

The following are national priority natural resource concerns that may be used in EQIP implementation:

  1. Reduced nonpoint source pollution by nutrients, sediment, pesticides, or excess salinity in impaired watersheds consistent with total maximum daily loads (TMDL), where available; reduced surface and groundwater contamination; and reduced contamination from agricultural sources, such as animal feeding operations;
  2. Ground and surface water conservation;
  3. Reduced emissions of particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds, and ozone precursors and depleters that impair air quality or violate National Ambient Air Quality Standards;
  4. Reduced soil erosion and sedimentation from agricultural land;
  5. Habitat conservation for at-risk and other targeted species, including developing and improving wildlife habitat;
  6. Energy conservation to help save fuel, improve water use efficiency, maintain production, and protect soil and water resources by more efficiently using fertilizers and pesticides; and
  7. Biological carbon storage and sequestration.

Las inundaciones urbanas en la cuenca del Río Grande de Añasco.In addition, the Caribbean Area has identified the following priorities:

  1. Protecting and conserving soils to reduce soil erosion and sedimentation.
  2. Improving air quality by reducing odors, greenhouse gases (methane and carbon dioxide) from AFOs/CAFOs, and chemical drift; planting trees for carbon sequestration.
  3. Reducing energy consumption and improving energy use efficiency.
  4. Promoting habitat recovery and protecting threatened/endangered species.
  5. Improving grazing & crop land plant & soil condition (reducing compaction, invasive species, contaminants, organic matter depletion and improving plant productivity).
  6. Improving water retention, water use efficiency and conserving water resources.
  7. Reducing surface & ground water quality impairment from pathogens, pesticides, excessive nutrients & organics, salinity and sediment.

EQIP Decision Making Process

Input from Outside Groups, Agencies, and Citizens: 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 2018 EQIP Deadlines

Emergency EQIP General EQIP
  • Application cutoff - January 19, 2018
  • Eligibility Evaluation and Ranking - February 2, 2018
  • Selection of Applications for Funding - February 9, 2018
  • Obligation of Contracts - March 9, 2018
  • Period 2 Application cutoff - July 20, 2018
  • Period 1 Application cutoff - January 19, 2018
  • Period 1 Eligibility Evaluation and Ranking - February 23, 2018
  • Period 1 Selection of Applications for Funding - March 2, 2018
  • Period 1 Obligation of Contracts - July 27, 2018

Applications received after July 20, 2018 will be accepted and evaluated for future rounds of funding.

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

CARIBBEAN AREA EQIP Funding Pools and Ranking Documents

Caribbean Area Funding Pools

Descriptions

Ranking Documents

Emergency Practices Equitable Relief Ranking This emergency EQIP funding pool is for producers who have suffered damages and losses due to the impacts of hurricanes Irma & Maria. It only addresses the 5 selected Emergency Practices described above. - NEW! Emergency Equitable Relief (PDF, 32 KB)

General EQIP

The primary focus of the General EQIP funding pool is to address soil erosion and water quality resource concerns on cropland and adjacent incidental areas. The funding pool is managed on an area-wide basis, so applicants within an NRCS Area are competing against each other.

Crop Upland (PDF, 32 KB)
Crop Upland USVI
(PDF, 30 KB)
Crop Valley & Coastal Plain (PDF, 30 KB)

Forest Management Implementation (FMI)

The Forest Management Implementation (FMI) statewide funding pool is for producers with non-industrial private forestland. The goal of the ranking is to address resource issues where forest-related products are produced.

Forest (PDF, 25 KB)

Grazing Land Operations

The Grazing Land funding pool is available to applicants statewide that graze livestock. The program is to address natural resource concerns on operations involving the production, growing, raising, or reproducing of livestock.

Pasture (PDF, 28 KB)

Pasture USVI (PDF, 28 KB)

Water Conservation Initiative

A special funding pool offering water conservation assistance management is available in the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI).

USVI Water Conservation (PDF, 29 KB)

Wildlife Habitat Conservation

A priority of EQIP is for the promotion of at-risk species habitat conservation. The Wildlife Habitat Conservation funding pool is available to Illinois producers who will restore, develop, or enhance wildlife habitat.

Wildlife (PDF, 24 KB)

Yabucoa Agricultural Reserve RCPP A special funding pool awarded through the RCPP program offering water conservation assistance management is available to producers in the Yabucoa Agriculture Reserve (YAR). Yabucoa RCPP (PDF, 30 KB)

National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI)

NWQI is a focused approach to help landowners in priority watersheds to apply selected conservation practices to reduce the flow of sediment, nutrients and other pollutants in runoff into impaired waterways.  The priority watershed in the Caribbean Area for FY 2012 and 2013 was the Añasco River Watershed. For FY 2014, the Río Guanajibo Watershed was added to NWQI.

NWQI (PDF, 26 KB)

More information is available on the NWQI webpage.

Initiative Funding Pools

Descriptions

Ranking Documents

Organic Initiative (la Iniciativa Orgánica)

The EQIP Organic Initiative helps certified organic producers and producers who are transitioning to organic to install conservation practices on organic agricultural operations. Resource concerns to be addressed include: Soil condition, Soil erosion, Water quality (nutrients, organics, sediment, pathogens and temperature), Water quantity, Domestic animals (inadequate feed, forage, water & shelter), Plant condition, and Fish & wildlife (inadequate cover/shelter, threatened & endangered species).

Organic (PDF, 26 KB)

High Tunnels

High Tunnel Systems (or Hoop Houses) help producers to extend the growing season for high value crops in an environmentally safe manner. They can potentially help producers to address resource concerns by improving plant quality, improving soil quality, and reducing nutrient and pesticide transport.

High Tunnels (PDF, 24 KB)

On-Farm Energy Initiative (NOFEI) (EQIP Energía)

The EQIP On-Farm Energy Initiative identifies ways to conserve energy on the farm through an Agricultural Energy Management Plan (AgEMP), conservation activity plan (CAP) or on-farm energy audit, and helps producers implement energy audit recommendations by applying NRCS conservation practices to improve energy efficiency.

Energy (PDF, 25 KB)

 

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

José A. Castro, Assistant State Conservationist - Programs, at 787-281-4962 / 787-501-6144