Colorado Environmental Quality Incentives Program

The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) is a voluntary conservation program that helps agricultural producers in a manner that promotes agricultural production and environmental quality as compatible goals. Through EQIP, agricultural producers receive financial and technical assistance to implement structural and management conservation practices that optimize environmental benefits on working agricultural land.

Accepting Applications

EQIP applications are accepted on a continuous basis, however, NRCS establishes application "cut-off" or submission deadline dates for evaluation, ranking and approval of eligible applications. EQIP is open to all eligible agricultural producers and submitted applications may be considered or evaluated in multiple funding pool opportunities. The following document describes how to apply for Farm Bill programs or visit the following website: Get started with NRCS national page.

To learn how to get started with NRCS, visit

To apply for EQIP, contact your local service center.


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

Additional restrictions and program requirements may apply.

Participant Responsibilities

Applicants are responsible for completing and filing all application and eligibility paperwork as required. If funded, participants are required to sign a contract and agree to implement the planned conservation practices to NRCS standards and specifications as scheduled.

Socially Disadvantaged, Beginning, and Limited Resource Farmers/Ranchers, Military Veteran Farmers

The 2014 Farm Bill continues to address the unique circumstances and concerns of socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers, as well as beginning and limited resource farmers and ranchers and Veteran Farmers. It provides for voluntary participation, offers incentives, and focuses on equity in accessing U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) programs and services. Enhancements include increased payment rates and advance payments of up to 50 percent to purchase materials and services needed to implement conservation practices included in their EQIP contract.

Colorado is committed to reaching out to Historically Underserved individuals and groups. Historically Underserved participants may also receive higher payment rates in addition to being considered in high priority funding pools. See the Small & Limited and Beginning Farmers and Ranchers page for the NRCS definition of the Historically Underserved.

National and State Priorities

The following national priorities, consistent with statutory resources concerns that include soil, water, wildlife, air quality, and related natural resource concerns, may be used in EQIP implementation:

  1. Reductions of nonpoint source pollution, such as nutrients, sediment, pesticides, or excess salinity in impaired watersheds consistent with total maximum daily loads (TMDL) where available; the reduction of surface and groundwater contamination; and the reduction of contamination from agricultural sources, such as animal feeding operations
  2. Conservation of ground and surface water resources
  3. Reduction of emissions, such as particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds, and ozone precursors and depleters that contribute to air quality impairment violations of National Ambient Air Quality Standards
  4. Reduction in soil erosion and sedimentation from unacceptable levels on agricultural land
  5. Promotion of at-risk species habitat conservation including development and improvement of wildlife habitat
  6. Energy conservation to help save fuel, improve efficiency of water use, maintain production, and protect soil and water resources by more efficiently using fertilizers and pesticides, and
  7. Biological carbon storage and sequestration

In addition, Colorado has identified the following priorities:

  1. Water Quality and Quantity: irrigation systems, water control structures and irrigation water management
  2. Grazing management: fencing, stockwater systems, range and pasture planting
  3. Nutrient management: manure storage structures, planned nutrient applications, soil testing
  4. Soil Health: conservation crop rotation, cover crops and conservation tillage
  5. Wildlife habitat enhancement: buffer practices, upland wildlife habitat establishment
  6. Forest Health: forest timber removal and woody residue treatment

Decision Making Process for EQIP

Input from Outside Groups, Agencies, and Citizens: The list of eligible practices in Colorado, payment rates and limits, eligible resource concerns, and state scoring criteria are developed based on input and recommendations from the State Technical Committee (STC). The STC is made up of representatives from various agribusinesses, producer groups, conservation organizations, and federal, state, and tribal government agency representatives.

The Local Work Group process and scoring criteria, are based on input from the counties in the Local Work Groups (LWG).

The priorities set at the state and county level are those that the STC and LWG respectively determined were of the greatest need and would have the greatest positive environmental impact. The scoring process at both the state and local level was developed in order to select those projects that would provide the greatest environmental benefit, and therefore provide the greatest public good.

Colorado EQIP Funding Pools and Ranking Documents

  • Beginning Farmer and Rancher    
    • The primary focus of this funding pool is to assist beginning farmers and ranchers address resource concerns on their operations.
  • Socially Disadvantaged Producer
    • The primary focus of this funding pool is to assist socially disadvantaged producers address resource concerns on their operations.
  • AgroForestry    
    • The focus of this funding pool is to address livestock shelter and soil erosion resource concerns on cropland or grazed lands. The funding is managed on an area-wide basis, so applicants within an NRCS area are competing against each other.
  • Forest Management Implementation (FMI)
    • The Forest Management Implementation (FMI) statewide funding pool is for producers with non-industrial private forestland. The goal of the ranking is to address resource issues where forest-related products are produced. The funding is managed on an area-wide basis, so applicants within an NRCS area are competing against each other.
  • Grazing Land Operations
    • The Grazing Land funding pool is available to applicants statewide that graze livestock. The program is to address natural resource concerns on operations involving the production, growing, raising, or reproducing of livestock. The funding is managed on an area-wide basis, so applicants within an NRCS area are competing against each other.
  • Soil Health    
    • The focus of this funding pool is to address resource concerns that improve the overall soil health of the land. The funding is managed on an area-wide basis, so applicants within an NRCS area are competing against each other.    
  • Confined Livestock & Manure Management
    • The Confined Livestock funding pool to address resource concerns related to the storage, treatment, and management of animal waste.
  • Riparian Area Treatment    
    • The riparian area treatment funding pool is available to Colorado producers who will restore, develop, or enhance riparian area habitat.    
  • Wildlife Habitat Conservation
    • A priority of EQIP is for the promotion of at-risk species habitat conservation. The Wildlife Habitat Conservation funding pool is available to Illinois producers who will restore, develop, or enhance wildlife habitat.
  • Water Quality & Quantity    
    • The primary focus of this funding pool is to address water quality and quantity resource concerns on cropland and adjacent incidental areas.    
  • Colorado River Salinity Program     
    • Purpose is to reduce salt loading from cropland within the Colorado River Basin. Funding is offered within designated project areas.
  • Conservation Activity Plan (CAP)
    • EQIP funding is available for the development of a Conservation Activity Plan (CAP). A CAP can be developed for producers to identify conservation practices needed to address a specific natural resource need. Typically, these plans are specific to certain kinds of land use such as transitioning to organic operations, grazing land, forest land, or can also address a specific resource need such a plan for management of nutrients.
  • National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI)
    • NWQI helps producers implement conservation systems to reduce nitrogen, phosphorous, sediment and pathogen contributions from agricultural land in the following watersheds:
      • Upper Grape Creek Watershed
      • Fruit Grower's Reservoir Watershed
  • Organic Initiative    
    • The Organic Initiative provides financial assistance to help implement conservation practices for organic producers or those transitioning to organic. The Initiative addresses natural resource concerns and also helps growers meet requirements related to National Organic Program (NOP) requirements.    
  • Seasonal High Tunnels    
    • The purpose of the Seasonal High Tunnel System for Crops is to assist producers to extend the growing season for high value crops in an environmentally safe manner. The practice has the potential to assist producers to address resource concerns by improving plant quality, improving soil quality, and reducing nutrient and pesticide transport.    
  • On-Farm Energy    
    • The On-Farm Energy Initiative enables the producer to identify ways to conserve energy on the farm through two types of Agricultural Energy Management Plans (AgEMP) for headquarters and/or for landscape, also known as an on-farm energy audit (headquarters and/or landscape); and by providing financial and technical assistance to help the producer implement various measures and practices recommended in these on-farm energy audits.    
  • Sage-Grouse Initiative (SGI)    
    • This initiative focuses on coordination with ranchers to improve habitat for sage-grouse and promote healthy grazing land conservation practices.    
  • Lesser Prairie-Chicken Initiative (LPC)    
    • This initiative is to help farmers and ranchers voluntarily create and enhance lesser prairie-chicken habitat and maintain the viability and profitability of their operations.    
  • Southwestern Willow Flycatcher (SWF)    
    • The SWF effort assists landowners restore degraded riparian ecosystems, and is part of the NRCS and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Working Lands for Wildlife partnership to combat the decline of specific wildlife species.    
  • Black-footed Ferret (BFF) Special Effort    
    • The primary focus of this state effort is to monitor and conserve Black-footed Ferret habitat in support of state re-introduction efforts.    
  • Ogallala Aquifer Initiative (OAI)    
    • The  Ogallala Aquifer Initiative (OAI) aims to assist eligible producers within the Ogallala Region to conserve water and improve water quality.
  • Air Quality Initiative (AQI)    
    • This initiative provides eligible landowners and producers with financial and technical assistance to implement cost effective and innovative practices to improve air quality in Colorado.

Contact Colorado Environmental Quality Incentives Program

Sarah Brooks
FA Program Manager
Denver Federal Center, Building 56, Room 2604
PO Box 25426
Denver, Colorado  80225-0426
Phone: (720) 544-2821
Fax: (720) 544-2965


Service Area

Statewide service provider in:
  • Colorado

Office Locaters

To request additions or corrections to this entry email the Administrator
Related Success Stories for Colorado Environmental Quality Incentives Program

Cheney Lake Water Quality Project
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NRCS and Central Platte Natural Resources District use EQIP and district cost share funds to target cost-share funds at priority water quality irrigation farmers.

Iowa Buffer Team
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Missouri SWCD/NRCS Partnership
Missouri NRCS' partnership with local soil and water conservation districts is tops in reducing soil erosion and protecting water quality.

Peach Resource Renewal Project
Conservation Innovation Grants are part of the 2002 Farm Bill and were established as part of the Environmental Quality Incentives Program administered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Salt Cedar Brush Management
Texas Landowners with federal cost-share funds are eradicating Salt Cedar in sections of the Canadian River to increase flow and benefit listed fish species.

Suwannee River Partnership
The Partnership is working with producers to improve river water quality through a voluntary program of Best Management Practices (BMP) and verification.