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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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. 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. Click here for more information on advanced payments.
Missouri 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. Click here for more information.
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, Missouri has identified the following priorities:
Increase water quality through reducing sediment and nutrients entering Missouri waters through landscape best management practices and improved animal feeding operations
Improve health and productivity of Missouri soils
Promote sustainable and healthy grazing management on Missouri farms and ranches
Add habitat and diversity for Missouri’s diverse population of wildlife
Provide management improvements and activities on Missouri’s privately-held forestlands
Conservation Activity Plans (CAP)
NRCS also provides financial assistance opportunities to participants for conservation planning services through a Technical Service Provider (TSP) to develop Conservation Activity Plans (CAP). A CAP can be developed for producers to identify conservation practices needed to address a specific natural resource need. Typically, these plans are specific to certain kinds of land use such as transitioning to organic operations, grazing land, forest land, or can also address a specific resource need such a plan for management of nutrients or to address an air quality concern. With a CAP plan, producers can then apply for financial assistance to implement the needed conservation practices. More detailed information about Conservation Activity Plans is available on the National Programs website.
Fiscal Year 2021 Missouri EQIP Deadlines
Applications submitted by November 20, 2020 will be evaluated to be considered for funding in fiscal year 2021. Applications received after November 20, 2020 will be accepted and evaluated for future rounds of funding.
Missouri is offering funding with the following focus areas for Fiscal Year 2021:
The General EQIP funding is for owners of land in agricultural or forest production, or persons who are engaged in livestock, agricultural or forest production on eligible land that has a natural resource concern. Applicants under general EQIP compete for funding against other applicants on similar land uses. Land use funding pools covered under general EQIP funding include, Cropland, Pasture/Hayland, Wildlife, Forestland, and Animal Feeding/Waste.
Soil Health Cropland Initiative
The Soil Health Cropland Initiative is a state initiative focused on assisting cropland producers address resource concerns associated with soil quality degradation to implement Soil Health Management Systems on their farms.
The Agroforestry Initiative is a state initiative focused on assisting farmers addressing resource concerns with Agroforestry practices. Agroforestry practices include: Tree/Shrub Establishment, Alley Cropping, Windbreak/Shelterbelt, Silvopasture Establishment, Riparian Forest Buffer and more.
The EQIP Organic Initiative assists eligible applicants to install conservation practices on agricultural operations related to organic production such as certified organic producers, producers transitioning to organic production, and certification exempt producers according to the USDA-National Organic Program.
The purpose of the High Tunnel Initiative is to assist producers to extend the growing season for high value crops in an environmentally safe manner. The practice has the potential to assist producers to address resource concerns by improving plant quality, improving soil quality, and reducing nutrient and pesticide transport.
The EQIP On-Farm Energy Initiative assists producers by identifying ways to conserve energy on the farm through an Agricultural Energy Management Plan (AgEMP), also known as an on-farm energy audit; and by providing financial and technical assistance to help the producer implement recommendations and conservation practices identified in the audit plan.
The National Water Quality Initiative is a focused approach to assist landowners in priority watersheds to apply selected conservation practices to reduce the flow of sediment, nutrients and other runoff into impaired waterways.
Missouri’s Central Ozark Glade, Woodland, and Native Diversity Restoration Project is one of 16 projects selected nationally for funding in FY20. This project will provide additional funding to mitigate wildfire risk, improve water quality and restore healthy forest ecosystems on private forestland in the following counties. Phelps, Pulaski, Texas, Howell, Douglas, Ozark, Christian, Taney, Stone, and Barry counties.
Funding is competitive and applications are evaluated for funding with other eligible applications within the same land use and/or initiative focus area within a Ranking Pool. Applications are scored based on ranking scores that are generated through the new agency Conservation Assessment Ranking Tool (CART). Each applicant’s ranking score is a combination of an assessment of the site vulnerability, planned conservation practices, program priority questions, resource priority questions and a cost efficiency multiplier. A CART Overview and Missouri EQIP Ranking Priorities for Fiscal Year 2021 is available here.
Missouri EQIP Contact Information
Lauren A. Cartwright USDA NRCS State Office, EQIP Program Coordinator
Parkade Center, Suite 250
601 Business Loop, 70 West
Columbia, MO 65203