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,

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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.

Agency - Department of Agriculture

Established in 1862, the Department of Agriculture serves all Americans through anti-hunger efforts, stewardship of nearly 200 million acres of national forest and rangelands, and through product safety and conservation efforts. The USDA opens markets for American farmers and ranchers and provides food for needy people around the world.

Office - 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/.

Relevant Nonprofit Program Categories

Selected Recipients for this Program

RecipientAmount Start DateEnd Date
Pheasants Forever, Inc. $ 749,998   2022-04-152027-04-30
Black Hawk Soil & Water Conservation District $ 100,000   2021-09-292026-09-29
Vermont Land Trust, Inc $ 2,011,148   2021-04-152026-04-15
Texas A&m Agrilife Research $ 2,231,261   2021-03-082026-03-07
North Carolina State University $ 4,007,556   2021-03-182026-03-07
American Farmland Trust (the) $ 2,627,531   2021-02-182026-02-15
West Virginia University Research Corporation $ 592,911   2022-02-152026-01-14
Michigan State University $ 5,142,128   2021-02-152025-12-31
Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University $ 195,351   2022-07-212025-12-26
Hopville Farms Llc $ 78,990   2021-09-172025-10-01

Program Accomplishments

Not Applicable.

Uses and Use Restrictions

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.

Eligibility Requirements

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 the land to be entered into a contract and submits an acceptable conservation plan for the farm or ranch unit of concern that incorporates needed natural resource conservation practices and provides 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. 2 CFR 200, Subpart E - Cost Principles applies to this program.

Aplication and Award Process

Preapplication Coordination

Preapplication coordination is not applicable.

Environmental impact information is not required for this program.

This program is excluded from coverage under E.O.


Application Procedures

2 CFR 200, Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards applies to this program. 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 Procedures

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.


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., Title XII, Part Subtitle D, Public Law 99- 198, 16 U.S.C 3830.

Range of Approval/Disapproval Time

From 10 to 60 days.


A participant may appeal any adverse determination.


Other - Not Specified.

Assistance Considerations

Formula and Matching Requirements

This program has no statutory formula. Matching Requirements: Percent: 75%. 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.

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.

Post Assistance Requirements


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.


Maintained in local NRCS office and Federal record centers for specified number of years.

Financial Information

Account Identification



(Salaries) FY 16 $358,186,000; FY 17 est $503,521,000; and FY 18 est $482,443,000. (Direct Payments for Specified Use) FY 16 $1,083,250,000; FY 17 est $1,334,146,000; and FY 18 est $1,130,524,000

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.

Information Contacts

Regional or Local Office

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

Criteria for Selecting Proposals

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.

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