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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP): Status and Issues

Megan Stubbs
Analyst in Agricultural Conservation and Natural Resources Policy

The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) is a voluntary program that provides farmers with financial and technical assistance to plan and implement soil and water conservation practices. EQIP is the largest agriculture conservation financial assistance program for working lands. EQIP was first authorized in 1996 and was most recently revised by Section 2501 of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (P.L. 110-246, the 2008 farm bill). It is a mandatory spending program (i.e., not subject to annual appropriations) and is administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA's) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Funding is currently authorized to grow to $1.75 billion in FY2012. Eligible land includes cropland, rangeland, pasture, non-industrial private forestland, and other land on which resource concerns related to agricultural production could be addressed through an EQIP contract.

With the 111th Congress facing tighter budget constraints, EQIP could face similar challenges with a potential reduction in mandatory funding levels and a continuing backlog of unfunded applications. A change in income limitations along with a new waiver created in the 2008 farm bill could also raise issues for the program. EQIP will also continue to face challenges in measuring environmental and program accomplishments.

Date of Report: July 8, 2010
Number of Pages: 13
Order Number: R40197
Price: $29.95

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