NJ Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)

USDA: Natural Resources Conservation Service of New Jersey

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Grant amount: Up to US $450,000

Anticipated deadline: Aug 30, 2020

Applicant type: Working Professional For-Profit Business Nonprofit

Funding uses: Project / Program

Location of project: New Jersey

Location of residency: New Jersey

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Overview:

The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) is a voluntary conservation Tillage radish cover reduces soil compaction and increases infiltration program open to all eligible agricultural producers including livestock, forestry, and organic production. EQIP offers financial and technical assistance to implement conservation practices on eligible agricultural land.

Decisions related to how a crop is produced affect the environment, and vice-versa. The EQIP program provides payments for implementing conservation practices that have a positive environmental impact, while protecting long term agricultural production and sustainability. NRCS professionals work with producers to develop a conservation plan for their operation, design conservation practices, and provide guidance to help implement the plan.

Opportunities within EQIP

  • Conservation Activity Plans EQIP financial assistance is available for the development of Conservation Activity Plans (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 such as nutrient management. All Conservation Activity Plans are developed by a certified Technical Service Provider (TSP) to help agricultural producers and forest owners address specific natural resource concerns on their land.
  • Cropland - The primary focus of this funding pool is to assist producers with resource concerns on cropland such as soil quality and erosion control.
  • Irrigated Cropland - The primary focus of this funding pool is to assist producers with water conservation on irrigated cropland.
  • Forest land - The forest land fund pool is a statewide pool for producers with non-industrial private forestland. The goal of the ranking is to address resource concerns within forestland. Producers may receive financial assistance to develop a forest stewardship plan or to implement practices within an approved forest stewardship plan.
  • Livestock - The livestock funding pool is available to applicants statewide that have livestock with existing resource concerns. The program is used to address natural resource concerns on operations involving the production, growing, raising, or reproducing of livestock. Resource concerns related to storage, treatment, and management of animal waste are included.
  • Wildlife Habitat - The wildlife habitat funding pool is for the promotion of wildlife habitat conservation. The funding pool is available for producers who will restore, develop, or enhance wildlife.
  • Beginning Farmer - The primary focus of this funding pool is to assist beginning farmers with addressing resource concerns on their operations. Visit Opportunities for Historically Underserved Producers in New Jersey to learn more.
  • Socially Disadvantaged Producers - The primary focus of this funding pool is to assist socially disadvantaged producers with addressing resource concerns on their operations. Visit Opportunities for Historically Underserved Producers in New Jersey to learn more.
  • Working Lands for Wildlife - The Working Lands for Wildlife Initiative is a partnership with the U.S. Fish and wildlife Service to combat the decline of wildlife species whose decline can be reversed. New Jersey targets Golden Winged Warbler and Bog Turtle Habitat improvements to reverse the decline and benefit other species with similar habitat needs.
  • Organic Initiative - The organic initiative provides financial assistance to help implement conservation practices for organic producers or those transitioning to organic.
  • On Farm Energy Initiative - NRCS and producers develop Agricultural Energy Management Plans (AgEMP) or farm energy audits that assess energy consumption on an operation. NRCS then uses audit data to develop energy conservation recommendations.
  • National Water Quality Initiative - NRCS will help producers implement conservation and management practices through a systems approach to control and trap nutrient and manure runoff. Qualified producers will receive assistance for installing conservation practices such as cover crops, filter strips and terraces in the Upper Cohansey River, Upper Salem River, and Upper Alloway Creek Watersheds to address documented phosphorus, bacteria, and sediment impairments which may be caused by soil erosion, exposed soil, and lack of riparian buffers and filter strips.
  • Soil Health Initiative - The Soil Health Initiative offers technical and financial assistance to New Jersey agricultural producers to implement multi-species cover crops and companion conservation practices.
  • Aquaculture Initiative - The Aquaculture Initiative offers technical and financial assistance to New Jersey aquaculture producers to address excessive bank erosion from streams, shorelines, or water conveyance channels, excess nutrients in surface and groundwater, degraded plant conditions, fish and wildlife habitat degradation, and inefficient energy use from equipment.
  • RCPP - Delaware River Watershed Working Lands Conservation Protection - Opportunities in selected areas of the Delaware River Watershed

What Practices Receive Funding?

With input from the State Technical Committee, NRCS determines the eligible conservation practices used to improve environmental quality both on and off the farm. The resource concerns addressed through EQIP include soil quality, soil erosion, water quality, water quantity, air quality, and animal and plant species of concern. A list of conservation practices was developed to address these resources concerns in New Jersey. Each practice is meant to work in combination with others as part of the total resource management plan on the farm. Implementing conservation practices on your farm may increases your economic flexibility and long term profitability while strengthening your stewardship of natural resources and the environment. Because practices work in concert with one another, practices may address more than one resource concern.

The State Technical Committee has identified the top 4 priority resource concerns:

  • Water Quality Degradation (nutrients, pesticides, pathogens, temperature, sediment)  
  • Soil Erosion (sheet, rill, concentrated flow) 
  • Soil Quality Degradation (subsidence, compaction, organic matter depletion) 
  • Inadequate Habitat for Fish and Wildlife (habitat degradation)

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

  • Reductions of nonpoint source pollution
  • Conservation of ground and surface water resources
  • Reduction of emissions
  • Reduction in soil erosion and sedimentation
  • promotion of at-risk species habitat conservation

Interested applicants can review the program information available and should request a new or updated conservation plan for their farm. An NRCS conservationist will meet with you to evaluate the soil, water, air, plant and animal resources on your property and offer several alternatives to address the resource conditions. The alternatives you decide to use are recorded in your conservation plan which includes a schedule for installation.

A contract offer is developed based on the conservation plan, and is ranked on how well the proposed practices meet national, state, and local environmental objectives, as well as their cost-efficiency. EQIP offers contracts with a maximum term of ten years and a minimum term of one year.

You can learn more about this opportunity by visiting the funder's website.

Eligibility:

  • Applicants must have current crop and producer records on file with USDA’s Farm Service Agency.
  • They must comply with the adjusted gross income limitation (AGI) provisions and be in compliance with the highly erodible land and wetland conservation requirements.
  • They must own or control the land for the term of the proposed contract, agree to implement specific eligible conservation practices according to the contract schedule, and have an interest in an agricultural operation.
  • There must be an existing resource concern that can be addressed through an NRCS conservation practice.
  • In order for land to be eligible for an irrigation-related practice in EQIP, including irrigation engines, that land must have been irrigated in two out of the last five years.
    • In addition, Irrigation Water Management must be implemented on all land contracted for an irrigation-related practice for three consecutive years following the practice implementation.

Ineligibility:

  • Land is not eligible EQIP if it is currently enrolled in another USDA Farm Bill conservation program such as the Wetland Reserve Program (WRP) or the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) for the same practice on the same land.
  • Land is also ineligible if it is used for mitigation purposes, or if it is publicly owned, unless the publicly owned land is part on an eligible operation.