Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)
Type: Cost-share and technical assistance
Max award: $300,000 during any six-year period; $80,000 during any six-year period through the EQIP Organic Initiative
Big idea: The Environmental Quality Incentives Program assists farmers and ranchers in planning and implementing conservation practices that improve the natural resources (e.g. soil, water, wildlife) on their agricultural land and forestland. A practice supported through EQIP is the installation of seasonal high tunnels (also known as hoop houses), which are unheated greenhouses that can extend a producer's growing season while conserving resources.
In addition, EQIP can help producers transition to organic production or help those growers already certified maintain their certification. USDA has allocated $50 million specifically for certified organic producers or those in the process of transitioning to organic production systems.
Who can apply: Owners and operators of agricultural lands
Real Example: A family beef operation in Morgan County, Utah, was one of the first farms to install a seasonal high tunnel and was immediately able to grow tomatoes, peppers, herbs, watermelons, and sweet corn. The family set up a roadside stand with the children selling the produce as 4-H and Future Farmers of America projects, and neighbors are active buyers of the locally grown produce.
Possibilities: EQIP provides cost-share and technical assistance for a broad range of conservation practices, including:
- Developing conservation plans;
- Installing high tunnels;
- Transitioning and practicing organic standards;
- Conserving energy;
- Managing forest lands.
Get more information: For more information about EQIP click here, and to find out more about the seasonal high tunnel practice click here, and for the Organic Initiative click here. To apply for any USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service program contact your state or local office here.