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Environmental Quality Incentives Program

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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.

Benefits

Eligible program participants receive financial and technical assistance to implement conservation practices, or activities  like conservation planning, that address natural resource concerns  on their land. Payments are made to participants after conservation practices and activities identified in an EQIP plan of operations are implemented. Contracts can last up to ten years in duration.

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.

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
  • Develop an NRCS EQIP plan of operations

Additional restrictions and program requirements may apply. 

EQIP Program Application Cutoff Dates

Sign-Up Option

Description

Application Cutoff Dates

General EQIP

Applications are accepted on a year-round basis. Eligible producers and entities interested should submit their applications for consideration.

Fact Sheet

TBD

High Tunnel System

A Program available to agricultural producers, 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.  Applications are accepted on a year-round basis. Eligible producers and entities interested should submit their applications for consideration.

2019 High Tunnel Application Ranking Questions and Practice List

2019 High Tunnel Screening Tool

Fact sheet

Early obligation 11/2/18. 

Second cutoff date TBD.

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. Applications are accepted on a year-round basis. Eligible producers and entities interested should submit their applications for consideration.

Fact Sheet

TBD

Organic Initiative

Special EQIP funding is available to organic growers and those transitioning to organic production. Applications are accepted on a year-round basis. Eligible producers and entities interested should submit their applications for consideration.

2019 Organic Application Ranking Questions and Practice List

2019 Organic Screening Tool

Fact Sheet

Early obligation 11/2/18.  

Second cutoff date TBD.

Conservation Activity Plans (CAPs)

A Conservation Activity Plan or CAP can be developed for producers to identify conservation practices needed to address a specific natural resource need. Applications are accepted on a year-round basis. Eligible producers and entities interested should submit their applications for consideration.

2019 CAPs Application Ranking Questions and Practice List

2019 Screening Tool for all CAPs

2019 Energy CAP Application Ranking Questions and Practice List

2019 Energy CAP National Energy Cap Screening Tool

Early obligation 11/2/18.  

Second cutoff date TBD.

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 producers implement conservation and management practices through a systems approach to control and trap nutrient and manure runoff. Applications are accepted on a year-round basis. Eligible producers and entities interested should submit their applications for consideration.

TBD

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.

2019 Air Quality Application Ranking Questions and Practice List-coming soon

Fact Sheet

Early obligation 11/2/18.  

Second cutoff date TBD.

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 FS will be more efficient and effective in these watersheds. 

TBD

State EQIP Initiatives

   
Washington's Wildfire Initiative  

Natural Resources Conservation Service is now accepting applications from agricultural producers statewide who were impacted by wildfires. Applications are accepted on a year-round basis. Eligible producers and entities interested should submit their applications for consideration. 

2019 Wildfire Rest and Deferred Grazing Ranking Questions and Practice List

2019 Wildfire Screening Tool

Early obligation 11/2/18.  Second cutoff date TBD.
Olympia Oyster Habitat Restoration 

Financial and technical assistance is available from NRCS through EQIP for individual producer contracts to help restore Olympia Oysters. EQIP funding will help pay for the shell substrate essential for the Olympia Oysters to grow upon as well as seeded cultch bags. Applications are accepted on a year-round basis. Eligible producers and entities interested should submit their applications for consideration.

Fact Sheet

TBD
Future Directions: Salmon Recovery Washington NRCS will obligate Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) financial assistance funding to support implementation of innovative, outcome-oriented conservation projects that will lead to improvements in salmon habitat. Applications are accepted on a year-round basis. Eligible producers and entities interested should submit their applications for consideration.  TBD
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. Applications are accepted on a year-round basis. Eligible producers and entities interested should submit their applications for consideration. 

2019 SGI Ranking Questions and Practice List

2019 SGI Screening Tool

Early obligation 11/2/18.  Second cutoff date TBD.

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.

How to Apply

The application process is a continuous process. Those who are interested in EQIP should work with the local NRCS office to identify and plan the conservation measures you want on your land. Those who have previously developed a conservation plan with NRCS will 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 signup options available in Washington.

Technical and Financial Assistance

Technical Assistance: Those who submit an application and are accepted into EQIP may receive technical assistance to plan conservation measures. Through EQIP, NRCS provides or covers the cost of professional technical services to develop conservation measures. This includes:

  • On-site assessments
  • Site-specific practice and management plans or Conservation Activity Plans (CAPs).
  • Engineering designs
  • Practice Payments: EQIP participants may also receive practice payments to offset the costs associated with the installation, cost of materials, and/or income lost with adoption of conservation measures. Practices that may be funded through EQIP are listed in the EQIP Practice

These include measures such as:

  • Manure management practices,
  • Efficient irrigation upgrades,
  • Forest management practices (Applicants must have an acceptable forest management plan in place in order to receive EQIP funding for forestry practices. This may be an NRCS Forest Management Activity Plan or other forest management plan; contact the local NRCS for more information.)
  • Erosion control and buffers,
  • Range and pasture planting,
  • Fencing and stockwater,
  • and many other activities.

Application Ranking Criteria and Selection

Annually, NRCS establishes one or more cutoff dates for applications to be evaluated and ranked for current year funding.  Any applications received after the cutoff date will be held for evaluation in a future ranking period.

The application ranking criteria for Washington State was developed in consultation with the 10 Local Work Groups (LWG) and the Tribal Work Group (TWG), based on National, state and local priorities and priority resource concerns.  The same application ranking criteria is used to evaluate all Tribal applications in the state. All other applications are ranked using the application ranking criteria for the LWG covering that geographic area.

Applicants selected for funding are not authorized to begin the installation of a conservation practice until they have a NRCS-CPA-1202, Conservation Program Contract, signed by the NRCS Contracting Officer.

Program Benefits for Socially Disadvantaged, Limited Resource, and Beginning Farmers & Ranchers: 
EQIP provides enhanced benefits to historically underserved program participants. Socially Disadvantaged, Limited Resource, and Beginning Farmers & Ranchers refers to groups that have not participated in or that in the past have received limited benefits through USDA programs. 
Click here for more information about Small & Limited and Beginning Farmers & Ranchers.

Funding Distribution

The distribution of EQIP financial assistance funds in Washington State will be accomplished by allocating funds to 10 Local Work Groups, and 1 Tribal Work Group.  The allocation to each Work Group was determined by the conservation needs in each Local or Tribal Work Group, national and state priorities and the time required to address the Local Work Groups conservation needs as well as national and state priorities. 

State Resource Assessment

Through the use of the State Technical Advisory Committee and Local Work Groups priority resource concerns and treatment areas have been identified. The 2009 and 2010 LWG process resulted in LWG resource assessments containing narratives and locally identified resource concerns.

This partnership has prepared a formal document describing the State Resource Assessment 2011: Priority Resource Concerns, Washington State, August 2011.

The State Resource Assessment is an integral document in setting resource concern priorities in every area in Washington State.

State Resource Assessment Accomplishment Report

The 2012 State Resource Assessment was the foundation for Washington NRCS to address the identified resource concerns on private and tribal lands. It was the basis for NRCS resource-based performance planning, workforce planning, and budget and allocation formulation, for fiscal years 2012 through 2015. 

NRCS program planning and delivery includes the SRA and TRA priority treatment areas as a part of the NRCS screening and ranking tools. Landowner applications for NRCS programs are given a higher ranking if the application addresses one or more of the SRA Priority Resource Concerns in these areas. 

To view the State Resource Assessment Accomplishment report, click here.

Contact

Your local NRCS Field Office for assistance.