Cover photo for Environmental Quality Incentives Program

Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)

Natural Resources Conservation Service

About

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, increased soil health and reduced soil erosion and sedimentation, improved or created wildlife habitat, and mitigation against drought and increasing weather volatility.

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 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.

Benefits:

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.

2018 Farm Bill EQIP Updates:

Historically underserved (HU) participants are eligible for advance payments to help offset costs related to purchasing materials or contracting through EQIP.  HU participants may elect to receive an advance of not less than 50 percent of the EQIP conservation practice payment amount.  If the participant elects to receive the advance payment, the funds must be expended within 90 days of receiving the advance.

The 2018 Farm Bill expanded eligibility regarding with whom NRCS can enter into an EQIP contract.  NRCS may enter into EQIP contracts with water management entities when they are supporting a water conservation or irrigation efficiency project.  These entities are defined as State, irrigation district, ground water management district, acequia, land grant-merced, or similar entity.

The 2018 Farm Bill requires a national 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, meets other environmental priorities and other priority resource concerns identified in habitat or other area restoration plans, or is geographically targeted to address a natural resource concern in a specific watershed.

EQIP Incentive Contracts:

The 2018 Farm Bill introduced EQIP incentive contracts to expand resource benefits to producers through incentive practices such as cover crops, transition to resource conserving crop rotations and precision agriculture technologies along with a similarly broad suite of incentive practices for ranchers and non-industrial private forest operators.  Every region within a State will have identified high-priority areas and each of these areas will target up to three priority resource concerns by land use.  In addition to the payment for practice implementation, incentive contracts offer annual payments to address operations and maintenance costs as well as foregone income.  EQIP incentive contracts can be a stepping stone for producers between EQIP classic and Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) contracts.

You can visit the 2018 Farm Bill Programs page for for more information about other NRCS conservation opportunities.

Popular Practices:

EQIP Initiatives:

Targeted EQIP financial assistance is available through general EQIP, and several other initiatives. These 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.

Eligibility

Eligible land includes:

  • Cropland and hayland

  • Rangeland

  • Pastureland

  • Non-industrial private forestland

  • Other farm or ranch lands

  • Environmentally sensitive areas

Eligible applicants(s) include:

  • Agricultural producers

  • Owners of non-industrial private forestland

  • Indian Tribes

  • Those with an interest in the agricultural or forestry operations

  • Water management entities

Similar Programs

Details

Organization

Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)

Financial Instrument

Grant, Cost Share

Image Credit

NRCS Oregon

Updated August 19, 2021

This information was gathered from public sources. Ambrook is not responsible for or able to affect the results of any financial programs listed, nor are they responsible for any incorrect information that is listed or is on the hyperlinked external sites. All information is subject to change.