Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) for Cotton Producers

The NCC has made available a fact sheet for cotton producers on the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).

Published: June 15, 2010
Updated: June 15, 2010


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 wildlife habitat for at-risk species. Specific priorities vary among states depending on needs.

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. Projects determined as having special environmental significance may, with approval of the NRCS Chief, have the payment limitation raised to a maximum of $450,000.


Applicants must be an agricultural producer or landowner in compliance with the highly erodible land and wetland conservation provisions of the Farm Bill, and develop an EQIP plan of operations. Eligible land includes cropland, rangeland, pastureland, private non-industrial forestland, and other farm or ranch lands. Persons interested in entering into a cost-share agreement with USDA for EQIP assistance may file an application at any time. If an EQIP contract includes an animal waste storage or treatment facility, the participant must implement a comprehensive nutrient management plan (CNMP). If an EQIP plan of operations addresses non-industrial private forestland, the participant must implement a forest management plan.

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.
  • Eligibility for an increased payment rate is expanded to include socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers in addition to previously authorized beginning and limited resource producers. It further allows these producers to receive advance payment up to 30 percent of the amount determined for the purpose of purchasing materials and services.
  • For water conservation or irrigation efficiency practices, NRCS will give priority for payment to practices that reduce water use in the operation of a producer who agrees not to use any associated savings to bring new land under irrigation production.
  • 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.