Conservation Program - EQIP Facts

Conservation Programs in Cotton
 

Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) for Cotton Producers

Updated: June 19, 2014

Overview:

The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) offers cost shares to cotton producers to install or implement a host of conservation practices, including conservation tillage, irrigation water management, integrated pest management, nutrient management, and soil erosion and sediment controls. Projects are selected to address environmental natural resource problems such as water quality and resources; air quality; soil erosion and sedimentation; and improved or created wildlife habitat. Specific priorities vary among states depending on needs. The 2014 Farm Bill consolidated the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP) into the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) – at least five percent of EQIP funds must go towards wildlife habitat.

How it works:

EQIP contracts are for a minimum term that ends one year after the implementation of the last scheduled practice and a maximum term of ten years. EQIP provides payments up to 75 percent of the incurred costs and income foregone of certain conservation practices and activities. Underserved producers such as limited resource farmers, beginning farmers, and socially disadvantaged producers may be eligible for payments up to 90 percent of the estimated incurred costs and income foregone. Producers may elect to use a certified Technical Service Provider (TSP) for technical assistance needed for certain eligible activities and services. Participants may not receive, directly or indirectly, payments that, in the aggregate, exceed $300,000 for all program contracts entered during any six year period. Contracts can last up to ten years in duration.

Eligibility:

Agricultural producers and owners of non-industrial private forestland and Tribes are eligible to apply for EQIP. Eligible land includes cropland, rangeland, pastureland, non-industrial private forestland and other farm or ranch lands.

Applicants must:

  • Control or own eligible land
  • Comply with adjusted gross income limitation (AGI) provisions
  • Be in compliance with the highly erodible land and wetland conservation requirements
  • Develop an NRCS EQIP plan of operations

Improving the odds:

  • Forest management and conservation practices related to organic production have been given stronger emphasis in EQIP. Assistance to producers is authorized for installing and maintaining conservation practices that sustain food and fiber production while enhancing soil, water, and related natural resources including grazing land, forestland, wetland, wildlife, and conserving energy.
  • Socially disadvantaged, beginning and limited resource farmers, Indian tribes and veterans are eligible for an increased payment rate and may receive advance payment of up to 50 percent to purchase materials and services needed to implement conservation practices included in their EQIP contract.
  • While not required, cotton producers with a comprehensive conservation plan will be well served in the application process.
  • Contract applications are ranked according to state and local priorities, including the environmental benefits and cost effectiveness of the proposal. Check for these local priorities to see what practices are eligible at your NRCS state website.

Contact your local NRCS representative at the USDA Service Center (http://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov/locator/app) to request EQIP assistance.