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Environmental Quality Incentives 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 receive financial and technical assistance to implement structural and management conservation practices that optimize environmental benefits on working agricultural land. Applications for EQIP can be submitted to NRCS at any time. Dates are set periodically to rank applications for available funding. All EQIP applications in Wisconsin will be prioritized using a screening tool. Applications will receive a high, medium, or low priority as of the application deadline. High priority applications will be ranked and funded first, followed by medium and low, as funding allows.

Applying for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program

EQIP applications are accepted on a continuous basis, however, NRCS establishes application "cut-off" or submission deadline dates for evaluation, ranking and approval of eligible applications. EQIP is open to all eligible agricultural producers and submitted applications may be considered or evaluated in multiple funding pool opportunities. The following document describes how to apply for Farm Bill programs or visit the following website: www.nrcs.usda.gov/getstarted. 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 provisions, be in compliance with the highly erodible land and wetland conservation requirements, and develop an NRCS EQIP plan of operations. Additional restrictions and program requirements may apply. To apply for EQIP, contact your local service center. For Program Process & Ranking Criteria by County Local Work Groups click here.

Special Initiative Opportunities

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Statewide-Farmstead Initiative
(Apply by November 16th for 2019 Funding)

NRCS helps livestock producers improve nutrient handling and clean water separation by implementing practices supporting manure storage, feedlot and barnyard runoff, and clean water diversion.

  • Ranking Criteria (TBA)
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2018 Storm Relief
(Apply by November 16th for 2019 funding)

Unprecedented rainfall and storm damage during the summer of 2018 severely impacted Wisconsin agriculture working lands. Wisconsin NRCS is conducting a special EQIP signup to address conservation practices damaged or destroyed, as well as new resource concerns resulting from the 2018 storms.

 

Local Bee pollinator

Honey Bee Practices
(Apply by November 16th for 2019 funding)

Funding is available for conservation practices and forage plantings (cover crops, pasture, pollinator seeding mixes) on ag land or wood land (not bees or honey production). Contact your local service center to sign up!

MRBI river Mississippi

Landscape Initiatives
(Apply by November 16th for 2019 funding)

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Soil Health
(Apply by November 16th for 2019 funding) 

Funding is available to improve soil health through sound principles and systems that include no-till, cover crop, diversifying the crop rotation, and managing nutrients and pesticide applications. Improving soil health of the soil allows for improved soil organic matter, increased water infiltration, as well as better profits and crop yields.

Organic Transition

Organic Initiative   
(Apply by November 16th for 2019 funding)

Funding is available for certified organic producers and those transitioning to organic production. Some individual practices have higher payments, in recognition of the higher cost of organic seeds/fertilizers in an organic system.

Radiant Heater

Energy Initiative
(Apply by November 16th for 2019 funding)

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High Tunnel System
(Apply by November 16th for 2019 funding)

 

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

The 2014 Farm Bill continues to address 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 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. Wisconsin 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.

Conservation Activity Plan

A Conservation Activity Plan or CAP can be developed for producers to identify conservation practices needed to address a specific resource need, such as nutrient management or a herbicide resistance issue. Typically, these plans are specific to certain kinds of land uses, such as Transitioning to Organic Operations, Grazing Land, Forest Land, or Farmsteads. A CAP can also address a specific resource need, such as nutrient management. With a CAP plan, producers can then apply for financial assistance to implement the needed conservation practices, such as pipeline and watering facilities to implement a prescribed grazing plan.

For more information about CAP's, click here. 

Eligible producers may apply at their local NRCS office. EQIP payments are made directly to the program participants for development of a CAP. These CAP plans may only be developed by an NRCS-certified Technical Service Provider (TSP). To find an NRCS-certified TSP, search the TSP website.

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 nonpoint 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 and depleters that contribute to air quality impairment violations of National Ambient Air Quality Standards
  4. Reduction in soil erosion and sedimentation from unacceptable levels 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, Wisconsin has identified the following priorities:

  1. Soil Erosion
  2. Soil Quality
  3. Water Quality
  4. Plant Degradation
  5. Energy

For More Information

For more information, please contact your local USDA Service Center. Please note, starting a practice prior to written contract approval will result in the ineligibility of that practice for EQIP assistance unless a waiver has been approved.

State EQIP Contact: Ryan Gerlich, 608-662-4422 x227 ryan.gerlich@wi.usda.gov

Acting State Organic Initiative Contact: John White, 608-662-4422 x258 john.white@wi.usda.gov