Are you interesting in installing or implementing conservation practices on the land that you work on? You may be eligible to receive money and technical assistance through the USDA’s EQIP program.
The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers 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, and improved or created wildlife habitat.
Under EQIP, farmers, ranchers, and other property managers may receive financial cost-share assistance and technical advice to conduct conservation practices such as: cover-crops, no-till, crop rotation, improved irrigation practices, seasonal high tunnels, establishing buffer zones, planting pollinator habitats, grazing and nutrient management, and more. The money from this program can cover planning, equipment, installation, maintenance, training, and labor.
The following information is taken directly from the NRCS website. Click here to visit their site.
How It Works
This voluntary conservation programs helps producers make conservation work for them. Together, NRCS and producers invest in solutions that conserve natural resources for the future while also improving agricultural operations.
Through EQIP, NRCS provides agricultural producers and non-industrial forest managers with financial resources and one-on-one help to plan and implement improvements, or what NRCS calls conservation practices. Using these practices can lead to cleaner water and air, healthier soil and better wildlife habitat, all while improving agricultural operations. Through EQIP, you can voluntarily implement conservation practices, and NRCS co-invests in these practices with you.
Some of these benefits include:
- Reduction of contamination from agricultural sources, such as animal feeding operations.
- Efficient utilization of nutrients, reducing input costs and reduction in nonpoint source pollution.
- Increased soil health to help mitigate against increasing weather volatility and improved drought resiliency.
Climate-Smart Agriculture and Forestry Mitigation Practices
While NRCS offers a broad suite of voluntary conservation practices and enhancements, the agency identifies a sub-set as critical to climate change mitigation. Download the NRCS Fiscal Year 2022 Climate-Smart Agriculture and Forestry Mitigation Activity List to see the full list of mitigation activities. Producers and landowners interested in climate-smart agriculture and forestry are encouraged to contact the NRCS office at their local USDA Service Center for additional information, including one-on-one support specific to their operation. Visit farmers.gov/service-locator to find your local office.
EQIP Conservation Incentive Contracts
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, Conservation Incentive Contracts are available to producers, nationwide. For more information, read the January 10, 2022 news release.
Through five to 10-year contracts, producers manage, maintain and address important natural resource concerns and build on existing conservation efforts.
Review the updated fact sheet for additional details.
Targeted EQIP financial assistance is available through several programmatic and landscape conservation initiatives.
In fiscal year 2022, NRCS launched a new Cover Crop Initiative in 11 states. NRCS provided $38 million through the new initiative to help agricultural producers in Arkansas, California, Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Mississippi, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and South Dakota. Sign-up dates will be determined at the State-level and all applications must be pre-approved for funding by February 11, 2022. Read our Jan. 10, 2022 news release to learn more.
Landscape Conservation Initiatives address priority natural resource concerns on the most vulnerable lands, target conservation assistance in high priority watersheds, or help stimulate the development and adoption of innovation and technology. Learn about Landscape Conservation Initiatives here.
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.
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.
EQIP Fact Sheet
Is EQIP Right for Me? (PDF, 1.2MB)