The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) is a voluntary conservation program that helps agricultural producers protect the environment while promoting agricultural production. With EQIP, NRCS conservationist experts provide both technical and financial assistance to implement environmentally beneficial conservation practices on working agricultural land.
Any eligible agricultural producer can submit an EQIP application at any time. NRCS announces "cut-off" or application submission deadline dates to evaluate, rank, and approve applications received by the announced date. EQIP contains provisions to distribute percentages of program funds by categories including type of agricultural land use, type of producer, natural resource concern, conservation practice and special initiatives. Applications may be considered for funding under one or more of these categories.
Eligible EQIP applicants include agricultural producers, owners of non-industrial private forestland, and Tribes that:
Control or own eligible land
Comply with adjusted gross income limitation (AGI) provisions
Comply with the highly erodible land and wetland conservation requirements
Agree to develop an NRCS EQIP plan of operations
Eligible land includes cropland, rangeland, pastureland, non-industrial private forestland and other farm or ranch lands. Additional restrictions and program requirements may apply.
Applicants must complete and file all application and eligibility paperwork as required. Applicants approved for funding must sign an EQIP contract and implement the planned conservation practices to NRCS standards and specifications as scheduled. Starting a conservation practice in an EQIP contract before final written contract approval renders that practice ineligible for EQIP assistance unless NRCS granted a written waiver.
Socially Disadvantaged, Beginning, and Limited Resource Farmers/Ranchers, Military Veteran Farmers
The 2014 Farm Bill considers the unique circumstances and concerns of socially disadvantaged, beginning, limited resource, and Veteran farmers by offering incentives and emphasizing equal access to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) programs and services. Provisions include increased payment rates and the opportunity to receive and advance of up to 50 percent of the payment outlined in their approved EQIP contract to buy materials and services to implement conservation practices in the contract.
Ohio strives to serve all customers, with a special commitment to assisting individuals and groups underserved in the past. These “Historically Underserved” participants may receive higher payment rates, receive higher priority in fund categories, or have specially designated fund categories, as listed in the EQIP fund category table. Visit the Small, Limited Resource, and Beginning Farmers and Ranchers page for the NRCS definition of “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:
Reducing nonpoint source pollution, such as nutrients, sediment, pesticides, or excess salinity in watersheds identified as impaired with total maximum daily loads (TMDL) where available; reducing surface and groundwater contamination; and reducing contamination from agricultural sources, such as waste from animal feeding operations.
Conservation of ground and surface water resources
Reducing emissions, such as particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds, and ozone precursors and depleters that contribute to exceeding National Ambient Air Quality Standards
Reducing unacceptable levels of soil erosion and sedimentation on agricultural land
Conserving, developing and improving at-risk species wildlife habitat
Conserving energy, saving fuel, improving water use efficiency, maintaining production, and protecting soil and water by using fertilizers and pesticides efficiently
Storing and sequestering biological carbon
In addition to national priorities, Ohio priorities include:
Air Quality: Access Control, Farmstead Energy Improvement, Pumping Plants, and Roof and Covers.
Input from Outside Groups, Agencies, and Citizens: The list of eligible practices in Ohio, 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 agri-businesses, 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.