Vermont Environmental Quality Incentives Program

Program Description

The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) offers financial and technical help to assist eligible participants install or implement structural and management practices on eligible agricultural land. All approved EQIP contracts will have a minimum term that ends one year after the implementation of the last scheduled practice and a maximum term of ten years. Contracts will provide incentive payments and cost-shares to implement eligible conservation practices.

Applications will be accepted and grants will be awarded based on several funding pools. The following is basic information for the various funding pools that a participant can choose to enroll their 2011 EQIP application in. Priority resource concerns are mentioned in each funding pool description below, however, funding pools are not limited to just those practices that address the mentioned priority resource concerns. This is done in an effort to reduce the amount of contracts that planners have to write and producers have to sign and follow.

All funding pools are subject to a $300,000 payment limitation, except for the organic initiative (see below).  All payments, even EQIP payments scheduled for 2011 and beyond under prior year EQIP contracts, will be factored in to determine the $300,000 payment limit for new FY2011 contracts.

Certified organic producers and those transitioning to organic may elect to apply under the organic initiative, or any of the other funding pools available. The organic initiative supports producers who need to install practices in order to obtain organic certification and to maintain organic certification. Practices offered through this initiative include grazing practices, buffers, reduced tillage practices, cover cropping, water conveyance practices, and high tunnels, just to name a few. Organic Initiative applicants are limited to $20,000 per year and $80,000 in any six years. This is why organic producers and those transitioning to organic, who need a costly practice like waste storage, are encouraged to apply to the Structural Pool.

For all pools, a forest management plan must be in place prior to undertaking any practice implementation in a forested area.

Conservation Activity Plan (CAP) Pool 
Applicants who need a forest management plan, nutrient management plan as part of a CNMP, or an agricultural energy management plan must apply for a plan under this funding pool. Program rules require that no other practices except for the plan (one plan per contract) can be included in the final contract.  All states are required to offer Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan (CNMP) – written, Forest Management Plan – written, Irrigation Water Management Plan – written and Conservation Plan Supporting Organic Transition – written, however, if a certified Technical Service Provider (TSP) is not available to write the plan in TechReg ( the applicant’s application is still processed and obligated when funds are available. If there is no TSP in the state to write the plan NRCS modifies the practice out each year until a TSP becomes available. If other practices have been identified without the need of an activity plan, they can be included in a separate contract in one of the following funding pool.

Socially Disadvantaged Pool
All practices offered in Vermont’s EQIP are offered in this funding pool. If you meet the definition of a socially disadvantaged producer you should consider applying for EQIP under this pool. a farmer or rancher who has been subjected to racial or ethnic prejudices because of their identity as a member of a group without regard to their individual qualities. Socially Disadvantaged Producer means a farmer or rancher who is a member of a socially disadvantaged group. Specifically, a group whose members have been subjected to racial or ethnic prejudice because of their identity as members of a group without regard to their individual qualities. Those groups include African Americans, American Indians or Alaskan natives, Hispanics, and Asians or Pacific Islanders.

Livestock Structural Pool 
If you need to install a facility to store manure, address silage leachate issues, or you need a pad to house your animals in an effort to reduce polluted runoff from entering nearby water sources, the structural pool is the only funding pool that offers these types of practices.   A CNMP must be written prior to using funds to implement waste treatment facilities. Many other practices including Seasonal High Tunnel Systems (High Tunnels Fact Sheet (PDF; 88 KB) High Tunnels FAQ (PDF; 36 KB)), buffer practices, grazing practices and Upland Wildlife Habitat Management for grassland birds (see Grassland Bird Conservation brochure) are also offered in this pool.

Livestock Non-Structural Pool
This pool offers practices for field waste stacking if the land where manure is planned to be stacked is eligible for the practice. If you are converting annually tilled land to permanent grassland, you may want to apply to this pool as this is the highest priority for the non structural pool for 2011. Grazing concerns is also one of the higher priorities that are addressed in this funding pool. Applicants who are interested in implementing practices outlined in their grazing plan, such as fence, pipeline, or watering facilities should consider putting their application in this funding pool.  Applicants who are interested in adopting land management practices to reduce soil erosion such as crop rotation, cover crop, or buffers should consider putting their application in this funding pool. Seasonal High Tunnel Systems (see High Tunnel documents) and Upland Wildlife Habitat Management for grassland birds (see Grassland Bird Conservation brochure) are also offered in this pool. This pool offers no practices for manure storage, nor does it offer any practices to address water quality at the farmstead other than roof runoff and fencing.

Non-Livestock Pool 
Applicants who manage all or a portion of their land without livestock may wish to consider placing their application in this funding pool.  For example, if you have a diverse operation of livestock and annual crops and you need to install a practice only on the annual cropland, this is the appropriate funding pool to apply for. This pool offers practices to address soil and water quality issues on productive land.  Prioritized practices offered in this funding pool include Seasonal High Tunnel Systems (see High Tunnel documents) and irrigation. Irrigation practices are only eligible in EQIP if an irrigation system already exists.

Forestry Pool 
This funding pool is for those applications that are primarily within a forest.  Practices that help to address water quality and soil erosion are included in this funding pool.  These practices include riparian forest buffer, brush management (invasive species control), early successional habitat management, forest stand improvement, forest trails and landings (to correct erosion concerns on existing trails only) and access road (to correct erosion concerns on existing roads only). 

Each of the above funding pools has an associated Beginning Farmer funding pool for those applicants who have self certified on their application form that they meet the beginning farmer definition. Information on what a beginning farmer is can be found online at or by contacting your local service center.


Persons who are engaged in livestock or agricultural production on eligible land may participate in the EQIP program. Contracted EQIP activities are carried out according to an environmental quality incentives program plan of operations which is developed with the producer. The EQIP Plan of Operations identifies the appropriate conservation practice or practices to address resource concerns. The contracted practices must be implemented according to NRCS technical standards adapted for local conditions.

Eligible EQIP conservation practices related to wildlife, forestry, or wetland enhancement have been established with cost share rates of 35 to 50% in order to reduce competition with the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP), Wetland Restoration Program (WRP), and Forest Land Enhancement Program (FLEP).

All conservation practices cost share rates can be increased to 75% if the practice will be implemented as a component of a planned Resource Management System (RMS). Contact your local NRCS office for information regarding RMS planning.

Limited Resource Farmers and New and Beginning Farmers with approved 2005 EQIP contracts, will receive 25% above the base practice cost share rates listed and 90% cost share for practices implemented as a component of a planned treatment at the RMS level.

EQIP participants may elect to use certified Technical Service Providers for technical assistance.

Sign Up

To apply for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), you will need to fill out the Conservation Program Contract Form CCC-1200 and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program Contract Appendix To Form CCC-1200.

After submitting your application at your local USDA Service Center, a certified conservation planner will assist you in developing a plan to address the resource concerns on your farm. They will also work with you to complete a scoring worksheet for your application. Submitted applications are ranked, with the highest priority given to those applications in each region with the highest score.

Contact Vermont Environmental Quality Incentives Program

Heather Wetzstein
356 Mountain View Drive Suite 105
State Office
Colchester, Vermont  05446
Phone: 802-951-6796 x-223
Fax: 802-951-6327


Service Area

National Program

Office Locaters

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

Cheney Lake Water Quality Project
Farmers, the City of Wichita, and NRCS and EPA partnered to fund and implement conservation practices to clean and protect the city’s water supply at Cheney Lake.

District,NRCS target irrigation water quality
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
A unique group of public and private partners joined forces to promote the establishment of buffers on agricultural lands.

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.