Basic Facts About EQIP

  • Once the Farm Bill was passed in May of 2002, NRCS began writing program policy and guidelines to implement the changes in the law. Those policies and guidelines were completed in May 2003 and EQIP contracts were signed with growers under the new rule's early as June 2003 in some states.

  • The amount of money that each state has available for EQIP contracts is allocated by the NRCS national office. States then allocate EQIP funds to individual counties, or manage the funds on a statewide or other basis.

  • Growers apply for EQIP at their local NRCS offices. EQIP applications are ranked according to priorities set at the state level, and may address issues of national, state, and local importance. Pest management, which includes IPM, and nutrient management are practices for which NRCS has established standards.

  • Once an application is approved the grower signs a contract with NRCS to implement the practices in the application. Payments are made to the grower for the approved practices at rates set by each state.

USDA Environmental Quality Incentives ProgramThe Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) has created significant opportunities for specialty crop producers to adopt more environmentally sound practices on their farms. In the past Farm Bill, the demand for EQIP outstripped the resources available to support work in the field. With funding of almost $1 billion per year EQIP opens additional opportunities for addressing the unique conservation needs of specialty crop growers.

A growing number of specialty crop producers across the country from a wide range of cropping systems are making use of EQIP in their operations. Their experiences in Oregon, Michigan, California and North Carolina offer insights into how the program works and the benefits that can accrue to growers and the environment.

Putting the Farm Bill to Work is increasing the ability of growers to participate in EQIP For growers who have not previously used the conservation programs or worked with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) participating in the program can prove challenging. Putting the Farm Bill to Work projects in North Carolina, Michigan, California, Georgia and South Carolina are providing information on how to use EQIP through Succeed with EQIP, a guide for growers to applying for EQIP that is customized for each state and cropping system. (Click here to see an example from North Carolina).

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