Skip Navigation

Environmental Quality Incentives Program

EQIP Webpage Graphic

 

Page last updated on July 25, 2022.

Introduction

The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers and non-industrial forest managers to address natural resource concerns and deliver environmental benefits such as improved water and air quality, conserved ground and surface water, increased soil health and reduced soil erosion and sedimentation, improved or created wildlife habitat, and mitigation against drought and increasing weather volatility.

2018 Farm Bill EQIP Updates

Historically underserved (HU) participants are eligible for advance payments to help offset costs related to purchasing materials or contracting services through EQIP.  HU participants may elect to receive an advance of not less than 50 percent of the EQIP conservation practice payment amount.  Participants who receive advance payment must expend the funds within 90 days of receiving the advance.

The 2018 Farm Bill expanded eligibility criteria to allow water management entities who assist private agricultural producers with managing water distribution or conservation systems to apply for EQIP.  These entities are defined as State, irrigation district, ground water management district, acequia, land grant-merced, or similar entity that has jurisdiction or responsibilities related to water delivery or management to eligible lands.

The 2018 Farm Bill requires that nationally 10 percent of mandatory program funding be targeted towards source water protection.  States will identify priority source water protection areas and may offer increased incentives and higher payment rates for practices that address water quality and/or water quantity.  

Beginning in 2020, States may provide increased payment rates for high-priority practices.  In consultations with the State Technical Committee, State Conservationists may designate up to 10 practices to be eligible for increased payments.  Eligible high-priority practices include those that address specific causes of ground or surface water impairment relating to excessive nutrients, address the conservation of water to advance drought mitigation and declining aquifers, meet other environmental priorities and priority resource concerns identified in habitat or area restoration plans, or is geographically targeted to address a natural resource concern in a specific watershed.

How To Get Started

To learn more about EQIP, contact your local NRCS office. An NRCS conservationist will visit you and evaluate the natural resources on your land. NRCS will then present a variety of conservation practices or system alternatives to help you address those concerns or management goals that improve or protect the natural resource conditions on your land. Please visit the Apply for EQIP page for more information on to how apply.

     

Accepting Applications

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: Get started with NRCS national page

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 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. 

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.

Note: Notification that starting a practice prior to written contract approval will result in the ineligibility of that practice for EQIP assistance.

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

The 2018 Farm Bill continues to address the 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 U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) programs and services.

Historically underserved (HU) participants are eligible for advance payments to help offset costs related to purchasing materials or contracting services through EQIP.  HU participants may elect to receive an advance of not less than 50 percent of the EQIP conservation practice payment amount.  Participants who receive advance payment must expend the funds within 90 days of receiving the advance.

West Virginia 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.

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:

  • 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
  • Conservation of ground and surface water resources
  • 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
  • Reduction in soil erosion and sedimentation from unacceptable levels on agricultural land
  • Promotion of at-risk species habitat conservation including development and improvement of wildlife habitat
  • 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
  • Biological carbon storage and sequestration

In addition, West Virginia has identified the following priorities:

  • Grazing management: fencing and stockwater systems
  • Nutrient management: manure storage structures, planned nutrient applications, soil testing
  • Wildlife habitat enhancement: stream buffers, upland wildlife habitat establishment

Decision Making Process for EQIP

Input from Outside Groups, Agencies, and Citizens: The list of eligible practices in West Virginia, 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.

The Local Work Group process and scoring criteria, are based on input from the counties in the Local Work Groups (LWG).

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.

West Virginia Program Information

West Virginia has 14 different Local Working Group areas. The areas range from 1 county to 6 counties and cover all of West Virginia’s 55 counties. The Local Working Groups are organized by the West Virginia Conservation District boundaries. In West Virginia, the Conservation Districts are based on the major watershed boundaries in the state.

Each Conservation District convenes Local Working Group meetings to identify and prioritize their natural resource concerns which EQIP can address. The Local Working Groups included representatives of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Farm Service Agency (FSA), Conservation Districts, State Conservation Agency, Cooperative Extension, Dept. of Natural Resources, Dept. of Environmental Protection, US Fish and Wildlife, County officials, and other elected officials.

The Local Working Groups identify and prioritize the needed practices to address local and statewide resource concerns. The prioritized practice information is used to develop ranking criteria to evaluate EQIP applications. Each Local Working Group recommends practices and payment rates in their Conservation District’s area. This information is submitted as the Local Working Group’s proposal for consideration by the State Technical Committee and the NRCS State Conservationist.  The NRCS State Conservationist makes the final decisions regarding EQIP implementation in the state.

A state allocation formula is used to allocate funds to national, state, and local funding pools, and includes a variety of factors that address items such as acres of grazing land, acres of cropland, number of unfunded applications, etc. These factors take into consideration national and state EQIP priorities and measures. The State Technical Committee reviews the state allocation formula and makes recommendations to the NRCS State Conservationist. There is no guarantee that every county will receive funding. Applications will be grouped, evaluated, and funded based on the ranking criteria for that pool. Land users in every county will have the opportunity to apply and compete for EQIP funding, but there will not be a county level allocation.

Fiscal Year 2022 EQIP Deadlines                                      EQIP Ranking Criteria

West Virginia NRCS establishes application ranking batch cut-off dates which is a date a complete application must be filed to be considered for the respective funding cycle. Please note, NRCS accepts applications on a year-round basis and all applications received after the ranking batch date are automatically deferred to the next funding cycle. NRCS selects the highest ranked applications for funding based on ranking score order. If your application is preapproved for funding, 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.

Round 1 2022-1    
  Batch Cut-off November 5, 2021
  Eligibility Cut-off December 17, 2021
     

To apply for EQIP, contact your local service center Get Started with NRCS - Do you farm or ranch and want to make improvements to the land that you own or lease? NRCS offers technical and financial assistance to help farmers, ranchers and forest landowners. Learn how here.


***NEW***

EQIP Conservation Incentive Contracts

***NEW***

West Virginia is accepting applications for batching period #1 for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program-Conservation Incentive Contracts (EQIP-CIC) through close of business on, February 18, 2022.

Conservation Incentive Contracts 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.

In fiscal year 2022, West Virginia will offer EQIP-CIC Statewide to focus on Improving Wildlife Habitat in Forestlands.

  • Project Area – Statewide
  • Priority Resource Concern – Terrestrial Habitat
  • Eligible Land Uses – Forestland, Associated Ag Land
  • Ranking Pool (111kb)
  • Eligible Conservation Practices
    • Upland Wildlife Habitat Management (645),
    • Early Successional Habitat Management (647)

Through five to 10-year contracts, producers manage, maintain and address important natural resource concerns and build on existing conservation efforts.

Review the National Fact Sheet and/or the WV Fact Sheet for additional details.


West Virginia Payment Schedules, EQIP Funding Pools and Ranking Documents  (2022)

Funding Opportunities for FY 2022
These summaries are intended to provide an overview of WV funding opportunities through general EQIP allocations and national initiatives. The following projects were selected for such funding in fiscal year 2022.

Ranking Pool

Ranking Pool Category

Descriptions

Additional Criteria

FY22 On-Farm Energy FY22 On-Farm Energy EQIP On-Farm Energy Initiative helps farmers and ranchers make voluntary improvements that can boost energy efficiency on the farm.  This emerging agricultural trend produces benefits, including reduced input costs, increased productivity per unit of energy consumed by equipment and lighting, and reduced air pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions caused when energy is generated for agricultural use.

Ranking Criteria and
Practice List

(126kb)

FY22 Organic Initiative FY22 Organic Initiative Organic Initiative:  The National Organic Initiative, funded through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), is a voluntary conservation program that provides technical and financial assistance for organic farmers and ranchers, or those interested in transitioning to organic. NRCS can help organic producers improve their operations or help producers transition to organic using a conservation plan tailored to their needs.  Eligible applicants also include producers who fall under the exemption category in the National Organic Program (NOP) regulation.

Ranking Criteria and
Practice List

(213kb)

Conservation Planning Activity (CPA), Design and Implementation Activity (DIA), Conservation Evaluation and Monitoring Activity (CEMA) CPA, DIA, CEMA

Activities that result in a conservation plan consistent with Steps 1-7 of the NRCS conservation planning process. The CPA will document client decisions regarding selected alternatives including identification of desired primary and supporting practices that the client would like to use to treat identified resource concerns.

Activities that allow for development of specific practice designs, management prescriptions, or other instructions that allow the client to implement the conservation practice or system of conservation practices. These activities are consistent with Step 8 of the NRCS conservation planning process. (Do not include assistance with conservation practice installation, review, and checkout.)

Activities that include assessment, monitoring, or record keeping for a specific purpose, to complete practice implementation requirements, or to determine the effectiveness of conservation practices and activities. CEMAs are consistent with Step 9 of the NRCS conservation planning process but may be used at any point in the planning process.

Ranking Criteria and
Practice List

(157kb)
Golden Winged-Warbler Golden Winged-Warbler Working Lands for Wildlife (WLFW) is a partnership that leverages capabilities and resources, targets assistance where it is most needed, cooperatively engages State and local partners, and works collaboratively with agricultural producers, forest land managers, and Tribes. NRCS and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) have selected seven at-risk species whose decline can be reversed given sufficient resources and landowner participation. Working Lands for Wildlife will promote voluntary, incentive-based conservation on private and Tribal lands.

Ranking Criteria and
Practice List

(126kb)

NWQI - Indian Creek NWQI - Indian Creek The purpose of NWQI is to work with producers and landowners to implement voluntary conservation practices as part of areawide efforts to improve water quality in high-priority areas. These areas are defined primarily by subwatersheds and referred to in this guidance generally as NWQI watersheds. NWQI is designed to help individual agricultural producers take actions to reduce the runoff of sediment, nutrients, and pathogens into surface waters where water quality is a critical concern. Practice implementation is focused to identified areas of the watershed most in need of treatment. NWQI also assists with practice implementation on priority source water protection areas, where the drinking water source is surface or ground water.

Ranking Criteria and
Practice List

(169kb)

Map
(1.40MB)

Cacapon - Lost River Watershed Initiative Cacapon - Lost River Watershed Initiative The project area covers all five counties of the Potomac Valley Conservation District (PVCD): Grant, Hampshire, Hardy, Mineral, and Pendleton. The project will focus on implementing conservation practices on Poultry operations to address with resource concerns associated with poultry litter storage, application and with animal mortality.  If applicable, the Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan (CNMP) must be completed and approved to be eligible to compete in this funding opportunity.

Ranking Criteria and
Practice List

(162kb)

Map
(2.43MB)

Potomac Valley Poultry Potomac Valley Poultry The project area covers all five counties of the Potomac Valley Conservation District (PVCD): Grant, Hampshire, Hardy, Mineral, and Pendleton. The project will focus on implementing conservation practices on Poultry operations to address with resource concerns associated with poultry litter storage, application and with animal mortality. If applicable, the Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan (CNMP) must be completed and approved to be eligible to compete in this funding opportunity.

Ranking Criteria and
Practice List

(147kb)

Map
(810kb)

Beginning Farmer CNMP Implementation The 2018 Farm Bill continues to address the unique circumstances and concerns of beginning farmers and ranchers. 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 and 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 meet these requirements.

Ranking Criteria and
Practice List

(198kb)

Non-CNMP Implementation Ranking Criteria and
Practice List

(198kb)
Socially Disadvantaged CNMP Implementation The 2018 Farm Bill continues to address the unique circumstances and concerns of Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers. The term “Socially Disadvantaged” means an Individual or entity who is a member of a socially disadvantaged group. 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. Socially disadvantaged groups consist of the following: American Indians or Alaskan Natives, Asians, Blacks or African Americans, Native Hawaiians or other Pacific Islanders, Hispanics. For an entity, at least 50 percent ownership in the farm business must be held by socially disadvantaged individuals. Note: Gender alone is not a covered group for the purposes of NRCS conservation program authorities.

Ranking Criteria and
Practice List

(198kb)

Non-CNMP Implementation Ranking Criteria and
Practice List

(198kb)
CNMP Implementation  Non-Strikeforce MLRA 125 The project will address resource concerns associated with Livestock Animal Feeding Operations and implement conservation practices associated with a prior approved Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan (CNMP). This funding category will focus funding on WV Non-Strikeforce Counties

Ranking Criteria and
Practice List

(176kb)

MLRA 126
MLRA 127
MLRA 147
CNMP Implementation  Strikeforce MLRA 125 The project will address resource concerns associated with Livestock Animal Feeding Operations and implement conservation practices associated with a prior approved Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan (CNMP). This category will assist producers with resource concerns related to confined livestock feeding and the storage, handling, and management of animal waste. This funding category will focus funding on WV Strikeforce Counties. The overall goal of the Strikeforce Initiative is to better serve USDA’s identified persistently impoverished counties and provide resources to historically underserved producers, which include limited-resource farmers and ranchers, beginning farmers and ranchers, socially disadvantaged producers, and veteran farmers and ranchers.

Ranking Criteria and
Practice List

(176kb)

Map
(894kb)

MLRA 126
MLRA 127
MLRA 147
Stream Restoration Chesapeake Bay Drainage The project will focus on the stabilization of eroding stream banks and the restoration of in-stream habitat and riparian corridors within the Chesapeake Bay basin. Natural stream restoration techniques are often implemented to improve aquatic habitat, water quality, and restore riparian functions. Project focus is also to target habitat improvement on streams with native brook trout, other trout populations, and threatened and endangered species. Ranking Criteria and
Practice List

(161kb)
Outside - Chesapeake Bay Drainage The project will focus on the stabilization of eroding stream banks and the restoration of in-stream habitat and riparian corridors across WV, outside of the Chesapeake Bay Basin. Natural stream restoration techniques are often implemented to improve aquatic habitat, water quality, and restore riparian functions. Project focus is also to target habitat improvement on streams with native brook trout, other trout populations, and threatened and endangered species. Ranking Criteria and
Practice List

(161kb)
Introductory Grazing MLRA 125 The Introductory Grazing fund pool is to address resource concerns on livestock grazing operations without the development of a Prescribed Grazing System. The pool is to target producers who have historically not installed conservation practices on their landscape. Inadequate Livestock Water and livestock access to environmentally sensitive areas are focus areas of this pool. Ranking Criteria and
Practice List

(138kb)
MLRA 126
MLRA 127
MLRA 147
Grazing MLRA 125 The purpose of the Grazing fund pool is to addressing resource concerns on a livestock grazing operation thru the development of a Prescribed Grazing System and/or supporting practices. Funding Categories are based on Major Land Resource Areas (MLRA’s) across WV. Ranking Criteria and
Practice List

(163kb)
MLRA 126
MLRA 127
MLRA 147
Forestry MLRA 125 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. Applications will be grouped and funding distributed by Major Land Resource Area (MLRA). Ranking Criteria and
Practice List

(137kb)
MLRA 126
MLRA 127
MLRA 147
Wildlife Little Kanawha Whip-Poor-Will Habitat A priority of EQIP is for the promotion of at-risk species habitat conservation. The Wildlife Habitat Conservation funding pool is available to West Virginia producers who will restore, develop, or enhance wildlife habitat. Ranking Criteria and
Practice List

(173kb)
Monarch Butterfly/Pollinator Ranking Criteria and
Practice List

(173kb)
General Wildlife Ranking Criteria and
Practice List

(173kb)
Northern Bobwhite Quail Ranking Criteria and
Practice List

(173kb)
Eastern Hellbender Ranking Criteria and
Practice List

(173kb)
Appalachian Heritage Agriculture Orchard/Vineyard The project will provide funding opportunities for agricultural operations for specialty crops such as Orchards, Vineyards and Maple Syrup. Pesticide and Nutrient management are focused activities within the Orchard/Vineyard funding category. Timber Stand Improvement and Farmstead Energy Improvement to improve Energy efficiency are focused areas for Maple Sugarbush funding category. Ranking Criteria and
Practice List

(161kb)
Maple Sugarbush Ranking Criteria and
Practice List

(161kb)
Urban Agriculture Urban Agriculture As American agriculture continues to grow in new directions, NRCS conservation assistance is growing along with it. The project will focus providing technical and financial assistance for urban growers across WV within Urban Areas as defined by: The Census Bureau 2010 urban areas and clusters map depict areas of densely developed land, encompassing residential commercia and other nonresidential urban land uses. In general, this consists of areas with high population density, represented by Urban Areas that contain over 50,000 people and Urban clusters containing at least 2,500 people but fewer than 50,000 people.

Ranking Criteria and
Practice List

(171kb)

Fact Sheet
(1.49MB)