The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) is a USDA program that provides payments to participants to address significant natural resource concerns on agricultural lands.
Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCD) operate through local work groups to provide leadership to identify county resource concerns based on watershed assessments, public involvement, and "optimize environmental benefits."
EQIP funds are awarded to landowners/users who agree to implement conservation/environmental practices and systems through a contracting process. Practices and plans for EQIP are to treat the land to a sustainable level to address the primary national, state, and county resource concerns.
This voluntary conservation program addresses serious threats to soil, water, and related natural resources through contracts. EQIP provides geographically targeted technical, financial, and educational assistance to maximize environmental benefits.
You can apply for an EQIP contract at your local USDA Service Center. Applications are ranked and selected for funding in order to optimize environmental benefits. Batching dates may be announced as needed to rank and prioritize any new or unfunded application. Contact the local Service Center for further guidelines and details of the program.
EQIP in Alabama will be implemented with three goals in mind:
To address the most severe resource concerns within the state through prudent and judicious use of EQIP funds
To place decisions and implementation responsibilities at the lowest level possible by involving locally led partners in the decision making process
To provide oversight and program management that is consistent with accomplishing national EQIP goals and objectives
Each county in Alabama will operate as an EQIP pool area. The local work group will advise NRCS on implementation of the regular EQIP within that county. Each county will select the practices from the list of state approved EQIP practices that will be offered within the county and the payment rates are the same for the county as the state.
A nationally developed ranking tool will be used to rank applications for funding. The local workgroup will advise NRCS on county resource ranking priorities. Copies of ranking tools are available at the local field office. The practice payment schedule is available below.
Eligible producers may receive a payment based on the statewide average cost of the installation of the conservation practice. Socially disadvantaged, limited resource, and beginning farmers and ranchers are eligible for a higher payment based on the statewide average cost of the installation of the conservation practice. In addition, socially disadvantaged, limited resource, and beginning farmers and ranchers can receive up to 30 percent advanced payment for purchasing materials or contracting.
Note: All participants that certify eligibility as a farmer or rancher under the New and Beginning, Limited Resource, Small Scale, or Socially Disadvantaged groups will provide all records necessary to justify their claim as requested by a NRCS representative. It is the responsibility of the participant to provide accurate data to support all items addressed in the application at the request of NRCS. False certifications are subject to criminal and civil fraud statutes.