The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) is a voluntary program administered by the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) to private landowners and producers. The EQIP provides financial cost-share payments for implementing conservation practices to eligible producers and landowners.
Type of lands that qualify: Cropland, grassland, wetlands, forestland
Type of program: Restoration and management
Monetary benefit: Direct payment
How it Works
Conservation practices that meet national resource concerns, such as sedimentation and soil erosion, water quality, air quality, soil health, livestock production and efficiency, and wildlife habitat, are available to producers and landowners. The NRCS provides financial and technical assistance to landowners and producers with the initiative to implement these conservation practices.
Staff from the NRCS work with producers one-on-one to develop a conservation plan based on the producer’s goals, needs, and vision for their property. NRCS staff also help implement the practice selected by the landowner from the list of over 200 various practices available.
These conservation plans incorporate practices that will benefit the environment and boost the productivity and efficiency of agricultural and forestry production systems.
Natural Resource Disaster Component
The EQIP also has a component to help producers plan and implement conservation practices on land impacted by natural disasters. Practices include: immediate soil erosion protection, minimizing noxious and invasive plant proliferation, protecting water quality, restoring livestock infrastructure necessary for grazing management, and emergency animal mortality management.
Any farmer, producer, or landowner is eligible for assistance through the EQIP. These producers can be row crop producers, specialty and/or organic producers, livestock producers, or landowners interested in wildlife and/or forestry. Producers interested in the EQIP must also have farm numbers and records established with the Farm Service Agency (FSA).
Also, new in the 2018 Farm Bill, historically underserved producers can receive both increased and advanced payments to implement these conservation practices in their operation. Traditionally underserved producers include farmers and producers that are beginning, have limited resources, are socially disadvantaged, and/or are military veterans.
The following practices are examples of opportunities available, although there are many more practices available. The payment examples are also subject to change each year that funding is available.
|327||Conservation cover (pollinator planting)||$620.39/acre|
|315||Herbaceous weed treatment (kudzu)||$122.78/acre|
|356||Dike (shallow water area)||$3.22/cubic yard|
|490||Tree/shrub site preparation||$42.92/acre|
|587||Structure for water control||Dependent on size of structure|
|612||Tree/shrub establishment (hardwood)||$0.74/bare root seedling|
|666||Forest stand improvement||$46.25/acre|
How to Apply
Applications are currently being accepted for continuous sign-up at your local USDA Service Center. Contact your local NRCS office for deadlines in your state.
A landowner has a 200-acre tract of pastureland. The landowner would like to enroll half of the land (100 acres) into the EQIP and plant hardwoods on it. NRCS determines that chemical and mechanical site preparation are also needed on the tract due to years of compaction by cattle before hardwood planting can occur at 10’ x 10’ spacing between trees. Of the 100-acre tract, 5 acres were left out of the planting for a supplemental food plot at the landowner’s request. The EQIP agreement states that the landowner will maintain the tree cover for the life of the 15-year term.
The payment rate from the EQIP practice will reimburse the landowner for chemical site preparation at $38.34/acre, mechanical site preparation at $128.29/acre, and seedling cost at $0.35 per seedling. On 95 acres, at 10’ x 10’ tree spacing, or 435 trees/acre, the planting will require 41,325 seedlings.
$38.34/acre × 95 acres = $ 3,642.30
$128.29/acre × 95 acres = $12,187.55
$0.35 per seedling × 41,325 seedlings = $14,463.75
With all NRCS specifications met, the landowner is reimbursed the total of these three practices, or $30,293.60.
How are EQIP Payments Taxed?
EQIP payments over and above costs are considered ordinary income and are taxed at the ordinary income rate.