The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) is a voluntary conservation program for farmers, ranchers and owners of private, non-industrial forest land that promotes agricultural production, forest management and environmental quality as compatible national goals. EQIP offers financial and technical help to assist eligible producers install or implement conservation practices on eligible agricultural land.
EQIP offers contracts with a minimum term that ends one year after the implementation of the last scheduled practice(s) and a maximum term of ten years. These contracts provide financial assistance to help develop conservation plans and implement conservation practices. Owners of land in agricultural production or persons who are engaged in livestock or agricultural production on eligible land may participate in the EQIP program. Program practices and activities are carried out according to an EQIP plan of operations developed in conjunction with the producer that identifies the appropriate conservation practice or measures needed to address identified natural resource concerns. The practices are subject to NRCS technical standards adapted for local conditions.
EQIP may provide payments up to 75 percent of the estimated incurred costs and income foregone of certain conservation practices and conservation activity plans (CAP).
Historically underserved producers (limited resource farmers/ranchers, beginning farmers/ranchers, socially disadvantaged producers, Tribes) may be eligible for payments up to 90 percent of the estimated incurred costs and income foregone. Farmers and ranchers may elect to use a certified Technical Service Provider (TSP) for technical assistance needed for certain eligible activities, services and the development of conservation activity plans.
The 2008 Farm Bill established a new payment limitation for individuals or legal entity participants who may not receive, directly or indirectly, payments that, in the aggregate, exceed $300,000 for all program contracts entered during any six year period. Project applications determined as having special environmental significance may, with approval of the NRCS Chief, have the payment limitation raised to a maximum of $450,000.