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.
Over 70,000 applications were received in fiscal year 2006. NRCS estimates that it would require over $636 million to fully fund all of the applications received last year. After NRCS ranked the applications based on criteria developed at the local and State level 39,030 contracts were approved with farmers and ranchers totaling over $787 million. It is estimated that these contracts will treat conservation resource concerns on over 20 million acres of farmland.
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.
Cost-share payments may be made to implement one or more eligible structural or vegetative practices.
Incentive payments can be made to implement one or more land management practices.
Fifty percent of the funding available for technical assistance, cost-share payments, incentive payments, shall be targeted at practices relating to livestock production.
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.
Limited resource producers, small-scale producers, producers of minority groups, Federally recognized Indian tribal governments, Alaska natives, and Pacific Islanders are encouraged to apply.
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 OMB Circular No. A-87.
Aplication and Award Process
This program is excluded from coverage under OMB Circular No.
A-102 and E.O.
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 cost-share or incentive 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.
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. These criteria can be found at http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/ eqip/EQIP_signup/2007%20EQIP%20Signup/2007_EQIP.html.
The Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 (the 2002 Act) (Public Law 107-171, May 13, 2002) re-authorized and amended the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, which had been added to the Food Security Act of 1985 (the 1985 Act) (16 U.S.C. 3801 et seq.) by the Federal Agriculture Improvement and Reform Act of 1996 (the 1996 Act) (Public Law 104-127).
Range of Approval/Disapproval Time
From 10 to 60 days.
A participant may appeal any adverse determination to the FSA county committee.
Formula and Matching Requirements
Conservation practices may be eligible for cost-sharing up to 75 percent of the total cost of establishing the practice. Incentive payments can be made for land management practices in an amount and rate that NRCS determines is necessary to encourage a participant to perform the practice that would not otherwise be initiated without government assistance. Limited resource producers and beginning farmers may be eligible for cost-sharing up to 90 percent.
Length and Time Phasing of Assistance
A 2002 Farm Bill EQIP contract expires one year 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.
Post Assistance Requirements
There are no reports.
The Designated Conservationist reviews contract administration annually during the length of the contract of completed contract items and need for deletion or addition of contract items.
Participants must operate and maintain a conservation practice for its intended purpose for the life span of the practice.
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.
(Grants) FY 07 $755,010,208; FY 08 est $758,000,000; and FY 09 est not reported. (Salaries and Expenses) FY 07 $240,550,029; FY 08 est $242,000,000; and FY 09 est not reported.
Range and Average of Financial Assistance
Cost-share and incentive payments are limited to a maximum payment limitation of $450,000 for the life of the 2002 Farm Bill. Average contract payments are estimated to be $15,400.
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.
Regional or Local Office
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/programs/eqip.
John Dondero, Branch Chief, Environmental Improvements Programs, Financial Assistance Programs Division, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Department of Agriculture, PO Box 2890, Washington, DC 20013. Attn: Deputy Chief, Natural Resources Conservation Programs. Telephone: (202) 720-1986. Fax: (202) 720-4265.
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.