Caribbean Area Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)
EQIP is a Federally-funded program under the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (Farm Bill) and is administered by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).
The Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) is a voluntary conservation program to help farmers with financial and technical assistance in the installation and implementation of conservation practices on eligible agricultural land. Through EQIP, farmers in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands may receive assistance for agricultural production and environmental quality as compatible goals.
EQIP offers contracts with a minimum term that ends one year after the implementation of the last scheduled practice, and a maximum term of ten years. These contracts provide incentive payments and cost-shares to implement conservation practices. EQIP activities are carried out according to an environmental quality incentives program plan of operations developed in conjunction with the producer. The plan identifies the appropriate conservation practice or practices to address the identified resource concerns. The practices are subject to NRCS standards and specifications. For details on EQIP program description, requirements, rules and supporting documents visit the USDA-NRCS EQIP Program website.
FY 2013 EQIP PROGRAM
Resource inventories developed by Local Working Groups (LWGs) to address primary resource concerns such as livestock, water quality, erosion reduction and habitat improvement identified the following priorities for FY 2013:
Any farmer engaged in livestock or crop production on eligible land (such as croplands, pasture and hayland, rangeland, private non-industrial forestland) may apply for EQIP. In order to be considered an Agricultural Producer, there must be a minimum of $1,000 or more of agricultural products produced and sold, or that normally would have been sold. (Proof provided by IRS Schedule F showing profit or loss from farm operations.)
Cost Share Rates
EQIP may cost-share up to 75 percent of the costs of certain conservation practices. Limited resource producers and beginning farmers may be eligible for cost-shares up to 90 percent (Check out the Limited Resource Farmer and Beginning Farmer Tool to see if you qualify). Program participants may elect to use a certified Technical Service Provider (TSP) for technical assistance. Select Puerto Rico and/or the Virgin Islands on the Technical Service Providers Map to find certified providers for Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
The maximum total cost-share and/or incentive payment an individual or entity may receive, directly of indirectly, is limited to $450,000 for all EQIP contracts during the term of the Farm Bill. Highest priority will be given to applications that provide the most environmental benefit.
2013 EQIP Conservation Signup Documents
Signup and Application Information
Interested agricultural producers in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands may apply in person at any USDA Service Center. Applicants may also request EQIP assistance by telephone, FAX, e-mail, or letter. The FY 2013 EQIP application period is continuous throughout the year. Applications will be processed on a first-come, first-served basis. A signed application form CCC-1200 (see below) must be submitted to be considered for fiscal year 2012 funds. Application forms and additional signup information can be obtained from your local USDA Service Center or NRCS Field Office.
Visit the USDA Service Center eForms Web Site for instructions and information.
Application Ranking and Selection Process
Applications for EQIP are accepted on a continuous basis, however, NRCS establishes application "cut-off" or submission deadline dates for evaluation and ranking of eligible applications. Once an application is received by NRCS:
Applicants selected for funding are not authorized to begin the installation of a conservation practice until they have a CCC-1202 Conservation Program Contract, signed by a CCC representative (NRCS Contracting Officer).
The Ranking Templates used to rank EQIP applications include questions that address various resource concerns and range from Water Quality and Water Quantity to Soil Erosion and Plant/Animal Health. The more resource concerns that are being addressed the higher the applicant's score. Once all applications have been ranked the allocation process will begin with the highest scoring applications funded, until all the funds have been exhausted.
IMPORTANT EQIP INFORMATION FOR PRODUCERS
Several practices are included in the program to address resource concerns. Among them are: waste storage facilities, manure transfer, pipeline watering facilities for livestock, irrigation, waterways, hillside ditches, filter strips, contour farming, buffers, and wildlife habitat. Conservation Practices must meet NRCS technical standards. The participant will receive technical assistance for the planning and implementation of the conservation practices. Copies of the lists of approved practices for Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands can be obtained from your local USDA Service Center or NRCS Field Office.
Local Participation and Work Groups
NRCS supports the locally-led conservation effort in the delivery of conservation programs. The USDA Local Work Group (LWG) serves as the starting point in the development and coordination of programs to provide and integral approach for addressing local natural resource concerns. The LWG ensures that the conservation needs assessment is developed using community stakeholder input. Utilizing the assessment process, the LWG identifies resource concerns, recommends practices, priorities, payment rates, cost-share levels and funding needs.
For More Information
For more information on this year's program or prior years' ranking criteria or cost lists, please contact the EQIP program manager, José A. Castro, at 787-766-5206 Ext. 117 or email@example.com. You can also contact your local USDA Service Center or NRCS Field Office or visit the National NRCS website at: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/ for more information.
José A. Castro, Assistant State Conservationist, at 787-766-5206 x. 117