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Environmental Quality Incentives Program

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Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) - Classic


The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) is a voluntary conservation program administered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) that can provide financial and technical assistance to install conservation practices that address natural resource concerns. EQIP provides assistance to agricultural producers in order to improve 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 wildlife habitat.

Interested applicants

For more information about EQIP, how to apply and program eligibility requirements, interested applicants should contact a NRCS field office in the county which your own land or where you have an agricultural operation. Applicants should review the Get Started with NRCS - 5 Steps to Assistance for additional information.

View the EQIP Flyer for a program overview.

Visit the USDA Service Center Locator to find the NRCS representative for your county.

How to apply

The applicant process is a continuous process. Those who are interested in EQIP should work with their local NRCS office to identify and plan the conservation measures needed to address the resource concern identified on your land. Those who have previously developed a conservation plan with NRCS could already have the conservation planning step completed.

Those who are applying for EQIP for the first time should schedule a meeting with NRCS to discuss their options before moving forward. Local NRCS conservationists will help you develop a conservation plan, identify conservation measures and pursue funding through one of the EQIP fund pool options available in Washington.

Establish Eligibility with USDA Farm Services Agency (FSA)

Each applicant must establish themselves as a USDA customer and attain all Farm Service Agency (FSA) eligibility requirements by November 20, 2020

Important information regarding FSA eligibility

One eligibility requirement that is not instantaneous is the Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) determination. On average, AGI determinations takes 3 weeks to be processed by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Weeks prior to the application cut-off date of November 20, 2020, it is highly recommended that applicants submit their completed AGI form to FSA. Submitting your AGI form to FSA on the last day will result in your AGI eligibility not being met by the cutoff date for FY21.

FSA offices can be found by visiting the USDA Service Center Locator to find the NRCS and FSA representatives for your county.

Although applications are accepted on a year-round basis, eligible producers, entities, & water management entities interested in EQIP Classic must meet the following eligibility requirements by November 20, 2020 to be considered for funding in fiscal year 2021:

  • Attain all necessary FSA eligibility determinations (AD-1026, AGI, FTE), and
  • Submit their CCC-1200 EQIP application to their local NRCS office

Visit USDA Service Center Locator to find the NRCS and FSA representatives for your county.


Agricultural producers, subsistence landowners, 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 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.

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
  • Have an identifiable Resource Concern on the offered land unit(s)
  • Work with NRCS to develop an NRCS EQIP plan of operations to solve the identified Resource Concern(s)

Submitting an Application

Any interested applicant may submit an application CCC-1200 for participation in EQIP. The State Conservationist has established a sign-up period to select the highest ranked applications for funding based on the NRCS ranking process, contract approval is dependent on program eligibility determinations.

Ranking Process

The State Conservationist, in consultation with the State Technical Committee has developed ranking criteria to prioritize and subsequently fund applications addressing priority natural resource concerns in Washington. EQIP funding decisions are based on an evaluation process that includes application screening and ranking criteria. The screening tool is used to prioritize assistance based on factors such as a history of contract compliance. NRCS uses the Conservation Assessment Ranking Tool (CART) to assess the site vulnerability, existing conditions, and identify potential resource concerns on a unit of land. After CART assessment, NRCS uses CART Ranking to evaluate an application in all applicable funding pools.

Click here for the WA Statewide EQIP Screening Tool

Click here for the EQIP Program Ranking Criteria

Click here for Resource Concern fact sheets

EQIP Classic- Application Cutoff Date for
Fiscal Year 2021: November 20, 2020

National EQIP Initiatives

Funding Pool Description
High Tunnel System

High Tunnels are available to agricultural producers and subsistence lifestyle applicants designed to strengthen local and regional food markets and increase the use of sustainable conservation practices that will improve plant and soil quality, reduce nutrient and pesticide transport and reduce energy inputs.

Energy Initiative

Assist producers to conserve energy on their farms through an Agriculture Energy Management Plan (AgEMP), also known as an on-farm energy audit, and provide assistance to implement various recommended measures identified in an energy audit.

Organic Initiative

Special EQIP funding is available to organic growers and those transitioning to organic production.

Conservation Activity Plans (CAPs)

A Conservation Activity Plan can be developed for producers to identify conservation practices needed to address a specific natural resource need. Current CAPs include: Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan (CNMP), Nutrient Management Plan (NMP), Forest Management Plan(FMP), Grazing Management Plan (GMP), Integrated Pest Management Plan (IPM), Soil Health Management Plan (SHM), Irrigation Water Management Plan (IWM), Drainage Management Plan (DMP), Agricultural Energy Management Plan (AEM), Conservation Plan Supporting Organic Transition, Fish & Wildlife Management Plan (FWM), Pollinator Habitat Plan (PH).

National Water Quality Initiative

The National Water Quality Initiative work in priority watersheds to help farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners improve water quality and aquatic habitats in impaired streams. NRCS will help producers implement conservation and management practices through a systems approach to control and trap nutrient and manure runoff.

As of August 2020 only the Nooksack Watershed located in Whatcom County is eligible for this fund pool.

National Air Quality Initiative

This initiative is designed to help producers meet air quality compliance requirements, as well as an opportunity to support practices which address impacts associated with particulate matter and greenhouse gases. In eligible counties, this initiative will provide eligible producers with program support to address serious air quality concerns from agricultural operations and help meet regulatory requirements. See the maps below for potential locations eligible for NAQI funding.

Joint Chief's Landscape Restoration Partnership

These projects build on existing projects and partnerships. By leveraging technical and financial resources and coordinating activities on adjacent public and private lands, conservation work by NRCS and US Forest Service will be more efficient and effective in these watersheds.

As of August 2020 there is no joint chiefs project area identified for funding in WA.

State EQIP Initiatives

Funding Pool Description
Washington's Wildfire Initiative

NRCS is now working with applicants that have been impacted by wildfire on their grazing operations. Producers statewide who were impacted by wildfires will be financially assisted to rest their burnt grazing land for one year.

Statewide Wildlife

Financial and technical assistance is available to support implementation of habitat restoration and enhancement projects that will benefit one or more of the following: Salmon & Steelhead, Threatened and Endangered Species (State and Federally listed), Native Olympia Oyster, Pollinators (emphasis on Monarch Butterfly), and Wildlife Corridors.

Sage Grouse Initiative (SGI)

NRCS developed the Sage-grouse Initiative to help private landowners voluntarily conserve sage-grouse populations and habitat on their working lands. In Washington, NRCS identified potential threats to sage grouse and their habitat and determined specific conservation practices to reduce those threats. Technical and financial assistance through EQIP is available for implementing the specific practices.

CNMP Initiative

NRCS assists private landowners with the implementation of their previously developed Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan (CNMP)

Statewide Forestry

NRCS assists private landowners with the implementation of their previously developed and approved Forest Management Plan (FMP)

Statewide Irrigation

NRCS assists private landowners with implementation of irrigation conservation practices that improve watering efficiency.

Statewide Cropland

NRCS assists private landowners with the implementation of conservation practices that reduce or eliminate Ephemeral Gully and/or Wind Erosion.

Statewide Soil Health

NRCS assists private landowners with the implementation of conservation practices that improve soil health. (Available in FY22)

Statewide Rangeland

NRCS assists private landowners with the implementation of conservation practices on rangeland that addresses livestock watering distribution and plant productivity.

Statewide Pasture

NRCS assists private landowners with the implementation of conservation practices on pastureland that addresses livestock watering distribution and plant productivity.

Beginning Farmer or Rancher

NRCS assists private landowners with the implementation of conservation practices on all landuses within Washington State that qualify as a Beginning Farmer or Rancher.

The term “Beginning Farmer or Rancher” means a participant who: 

  • Has not operated a farm or ranch, or who has operated a farm or ranch for not more than 10 consecutive years. This requirement applies to all members of a legal entity, and who ...
  • Will materially and substantially participate in the operation of the farm or ranch.

In the case of a contract with an individual, individually or with the immediate family, material and substantial participation requires that the individual provide substantial day-to-day labor and management of the farm or ranch, consistent with the practices in the county or State where the farm is located. In the case of a contract made with a legal entity, all members must materially and substantially participate in the operation of the farm or ranch. Material and substantial participation requires that the members provide some amount of the management, or labor and management necessary for day-to-day activities, such that if the members did not provide these inputs, operation of the farm or ranch would be seriously impaired. 

Socially Disadvantaged Farmer or Rancher

NRCS assists private landowners with the implementation of conservation practices on all landuses within Washington State that qualify as Socially Disadvantaged Farmer or Rancher.

The term “Socially Disadvantaged” means an individual or entity who is a member of a socially disadvantaged group. For an entity, at least 50 percent ownership in the farm business must be held by socially disadvantaged individuals. A socially disadvantaged group is a group whose members have been subject to racial or ethnic prejudice because of their identity as members of a group without regard to their individual qualities.

These groups consist of the following:

  • American Indians or Alaskan Natives
  • Asians
  • Blacks or African Americans
  • Native Hawaiians or other Pacific Islanders
  • Hispanics

Note: Gender alone is not a covered group for the purposes of NRCS conservation programs. The term entities reflect a broad interpretation to include partnerships, couples, legal entities, etc.

Statewide Tribal Local Working Group

NRCS assists Tribes with the implementation of conservation practices for identified Plant/Animal/Aquatic species of cultural importance to each Tribe.

Local Working Groups

NRCS assists private landowners with each of the ten Local Working Groups (LWG) throughout the state to the implement conservation practices that solve the local Resource Concerns identified and prioritized by the LWG.

Program Payments and Payment Rates

Practice Payment Schedule

NRCS provides financial assistance for selected conservation practices. Download the Washington payment schedules to see which activities qualify, and how much financial assistance is available. Practice scenarios show examples of how financial assistance payments are calculated.

Information on Washington Payment Scenarios can be found here

Existing 2014 Farm Bill Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP)-EQIP Projects

Yakima Integrated Plan-Toppenish to Tenaway
RCPP 1672
Screening Worksheet
Ranking and Practices
SW WA NIPF Conservation Partnership
RCPP 1650
Screening Worksheet
Ranking and Practices

Environmental Quality Incentive Program - Incentive Contracts

The 2018 Farm Bill introduced EQIP incentives contracts to expand resource benefits to producers through incentive practices such as cover crops, transition to resource conserving crop rotations and precision agriculture technologies along with a similarly broad suite of incentive practices for ranchers and non-industrial private forest operators. Every region within a State will have identified high-priority areas and each of these areas will target up to three priority resource concerns by land use. In addition to the payment for practice implementation, incentives contracts offer annual payments to address operations and maintenance costs as well as foregone income. EQIP incentives contracts can be a stepping stone for producers between EQIP Classic and the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) contracts.

Coming Soon: Washington Specific Information on EQIP Incentives Contracts for FY21.

Program Contact

Keith Griswold, Assistant State Conservationist for Programs
Natural Resources Conservation Service
Spokane Valley, WA