Environmental Quality Incentives Program


Promotes agricultural production, forest management, and environmental quality as compatible national goals and optimizes environmental benefits on eligible land with farmers, ranchers, and non-industrial private forest land owners. It is a voluntary program using partnerships with local, State, Tribal and Federal agencies, producer associations, and nonprofit organizations to provide flexible technical and financial assistance to install and maintain conservation practices include those related to organic production, that sustain food and fiber production. The purpose of this program is achieved through the implementation of structural, vegetative, and land management practices on eligible land. This program is funded through the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC). NRCS provides overall program administration and management.

General information about this opportunity
Last Known Status
Program Number
Federal Agency/Office
Agency: Department of Agriculture
Office: Natural Resources Conservation Service
Type(s) of Assistance Offered
Program Accomplishments
Not Applicable.
This program is authorized by Chapter 4 of Subtitle D of Title XII of the Food Security Act of 1985 (16 USC 3839aa--3839aa-8), effective February 7, 2014., Executive Order Executive Order , Title XII, Part Subtitle D, Public Law 99- 198, 16 U.S.C 3830.
Who is eligible to apply/benefit from this assistance?
Applicant Eligibility
Agricultural producers who face serious threats to soil, water, and related natural resources, or who need assistance with complying with Federal and State environment laws. A participant may be an owner, landlord, operator, or tenant of eligible agricultural lands or non-industrial forestlands. Limited resource producers, small-scale producers, social disadvantaged individuals, federally recognized Indian tribal governments, Alaska natives, and Pacific Islanders are encouraged to apply.
Beneficiary Eligibility
To be eligible the agricultural producers must be in compliance with highly erodible land and wetland conservation provisions and in compliance with the Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) payment limitations.
Evidence that applicant has control over land to be entered into contract and submits an acceptable conservation plan for the farm or ranch unit of concern that incorporates needed natural resource conservation practices and provide either a social security number or individual tax identification number of all proposed beneficiaries. Applicants claiming either limited resource producer or beginning farmer classification may be asked to provide documents to justify their claim. This program is excluded from coverage under 2 CFR 200, Subpart E - Cost Principles.
What is the process for applying and being award this assistance?
Pre-Application Procedure
Preapplication coordination is not applicable. Environmental impact information is not required for this program. This program is excluded from coverage under E.O. 12372.
Application Procedure
This program is excluded from coverage under 2 CFR 200, Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards. This program is excluded from coverage under OMB Circular No. A-102. This program is excluded from coverage under OMB Circular No. A-110. Program participation is voluntary. The applicant applies at the local USDA Service Center on Form NRCS-CPA-1200. Applications may be filed at any time during the year. The participant develops an EQIP plan of operations that identifies what conservation practices they are proposing to implement. Technical assistance, and conservation practice payments may be provided to apply needed conservation practices and land use adjustments within a time schedule specified by the conservation EQIP plan of operations. A contract with a participant may apply one or more land management practices or one or more structural practices.
Award Procedure
NRCS will give special consideration to applicants that address priority natural resource concerns designated. Applications will be periodically ranked and selected for funding based on locally developed ranking process.
Not Applicable.
Approval/Disapproval Decision Time
From 10 to 60 days.
A participant may appeal any adverse determination.
Other - Not Specified.
How are proposals selected?
Applications will be periodically ranked and selected for funding based on: the environmental benefits per dollar expended; the cost-effectiveness of the conversation practices; the environmental benefits derived; extent to which the contract will assist the applicant in complying with Federal, State, tribal or local environmental laws; whether the land is located in a priority area and the extent the contract will assist the priority area goals and objectives.
How may assistance be used?
Technical assistance is provided for conservation planning, design and implementation of conservation practices for eligible participants. Financial assistance is provided for implementation of structural, and land management practices. Payments may be made to implement one or more eligible structural, vegetative, and land management conservation practices. Sixty percent of the funding available for assistance shall be targeted at practices relating to livestock production.
What are the requirements after being awarded this opportunity?
No reports are required.
In accordance with the provisions of 2 CFR 200, Subpart F - Audit Requirements, non-Federal entities that expend financial assistance of $750,000 or more in Federal awards will have a single or a program-specific audit conducted for that year. Non-Federal entities that expend less than $750,000 a year in Federal awards are exempt from Federal audit requirements for that year, except as noted in 2 CFR 200.503. Natural Resources Conservation Service makes periodic random reviews of the operation and maintenance of the contract items during the life span of the conservation practice. Participants are subject to audit by the Office of Inspector General, USDA.
Maintained in local NRCS office and Federal record centers for specified number of years.
Other Assistance Considerations
Formula and Matching Requirements
This program has no statutory formula.
Matching Requirements: Percent: 75.%. This program has no statutory formula.
Matching Requirements: EQIP payment rates may be up to 75 percent of the estimated incurred costs and up to 100 percent of income foregone related to certain conservation practices. Historically underserved producers, including socially disadvantaged, limited resource, or beginning farmers and ranchers, and tribal members, may be eligible for payment rates up to 90 percent for estimated incurred costs. Payment rates and estimated incurred costs are documented in agency developed and approved payment schedules.
This program has MOE requirements, see funding agency for further details. None.
This program has MOE requirements, see funding agency for further details. None.
Length and Time Phasing of Assistance
A 2014 Farm Bill EQIP contracts expire after the last planned practice is implemented but cannot be longer than 10 years. Obligations for assistance are tied to the schedule for applying conservation practices included in the EQIP plan of operations conservation plan used as the basis for the contract. Payments are made when the participant and NRCS certify that conservation practice is completed in accordance with NRCS standards and specifications. Technical assistance may be provided by a certified Technical Service Provider (TSP). The participant may not engage a TSP prior to contract approval. This assistance will be reimbursed based upon not-to-exceed rates. These payments will be made after the services of the certified TSP have been provided in accordance with NRCS standards and specifications. Method of awarding/releasing assistance: lump sum. Method of awarding/releasing assistance: lump sum.
Who do I contact about this opportunity?
Regional or Local Office
See Regional Agency Offices. See Regional Agency Offices. For more information on this and other related conservation programs, consult the local telephone directory where your land is located for location of the USDA service center. For a list of NRCS State offices with telephone numbers and addresses, see appropriate Appendix IV of the Catalog. Information is available on the internet at http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/national/programs/financial/eqip/.
Headquarters Office
Jeff White Financial Assistance Programs Division, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Department of Agriculture, PO Box 2890, Washington, District of Columbia 20113 Email: Jeff.White@wdc.usda.gov Phone: 202-690-2621
Website Address
Financial Information
Account Identification
(Salaries) FY 14 $361,038,000; FY 15 est $373,510,000; and FY 16 est $396,821,000. (Direct Payments for Specified Use) FY 14 $936,030,000; FY 15 est $1,025,175,000; and FY 16 est $1,016,179,000
Range and Average of Financial Assistance
Total EQIP conservation payments are limited to $450,000 in financial assistance per person or legal entity for contracts entered into between fiscal years 2014 through 2018, regardless of the number of contracts. Average contract payments are estimated to be $23,000 .
Regulations, Guidelines and Literature
7 CFR Part 1466. Program is announced through news media and in announcements to agricultural producers, farm and ranch owners and operators in the county. Program manuals, handbooks, and leaflets issued by NRCS.
Examples of Funded Projects
Not Applicable.