Most farmers have heard of the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, or EQIP, for short. This is the USDA’s flagship cost-share program that pays for on-farm infrastructure upgrades and better farm management practices, including new fencing and water systems, cover crops, improved nutrient management, wildlife buffers, and precision irrigation. These farm upgrades are aligned with conservation outcomes that improve soil health, water quality, biodiversity, and energy efficiency. EQIP funds 50 -75% of project costs on a reimbursement basis, making this program a no-brainer for many producers.
That said, only an estimated 15-20% of farmers have taken advantage of this program. Why? For one, the funds are highly competitive: only 25-30% of farmers who apply will get the cost-share grant. In addition, applying for this program requires paperwork and a 6-12 month wait time from application to approval.
Still, this program can unlock major benefits for farmers, particularly for producers looking to grow their farm businesses.
EQIP funds diverse production systems: from livestock operations to row crops to vegetable plots. Here are three reasons why every farmer should consider applying for the EQIP program.
For farmers who know their farm needs a big infrastructure upgrade but cringe at the cost associated with it, EQIP can be a game-changer. The average EQIP cost-share package is about $30K per producer, providing much-need cash flow to farmers seeking to grow their businesses. And speaking of growth, infrastructure upgrades funded by EQIP (including soil health improvements and more efficient energy systems) can generate long-term profitability boosts for the farm by reducing energy costs and risk.
Farms with healthy soils are more likely to generate stable yields and avoid erosion in the face of extreme weather. Investing in soil health is like taking out an insurance policy for the farm. The EQIP program supports farmers implementing management practices that increase water retention and organic matter in farm soils, de-risking the farm operation for current – and future – generations
Farmers who receive EQIP grants get more than just the dollars – they also get cutting-edge technical support from Technical Service Providers (TSPs) at the USDA. TSPs provide advice and coaching to help the producer farm smarter – both for the land and for the business. Through implementing best practices and infrastructure improvements, EQIP recipients optimize their farm for success.
Why do most farmers who apply for USDA cost-share not get funded? After processing hundreds of EQIP applications, we've learned why it's so hard for small farmers to access USDA farm grants.
Calling all beginning farmers and ranchers! Take your operation’s profitability to the next level with federal grant funding like EQIP, REAP and VAPG.
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