Irrigation-related changes in the final rule for Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)

Naveen Adusumilli  |  5/13/2016 10:29:05 PM

On May 12, 2016, the final rule for EQIP was published by USDA. As most of you know, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) provides financial incentives and technical assistance to agricultural producers to conserve soil, water, and related natural resources through EQIP. Several changes were made to EQIP that included criteria related to the topic of irrigation.


To get EQIP assistance to address water conservation through irrigation practices, farmers need to provide evidence that land has been irrigated 2 of the past 5 years. The idea behind such a requirement is to ensure that a farmer intends to move toward efficient irrigation system as well as that the land has been in active agricultural production.

Change Proposed:

Include a waiver of irrigation history for limited resource and/or socially disadvantaged producers including Indian Tribal producers; however, the producer must be able to establish that land has been in active agricultural production for 4 of the last 6 years. The waiver can be submitted for practices that will be used to irrigate less than 50-acres of cropland.

Why the change:

  • Use of unconventional irrigation methods that create difficulty in documentation of irrigation
  • Loss of water rights and/or access to water, thus creating barrier to irrigation history

Final rule:

NRCS developed a conservation program manual that now incorporates all criteria to determine waiver except for the 50-acre per producer or 200-acres per Tribe acreage limitation. The waivers will be evaluated on a case by case basis so that producers that are affected by reasons beyond their control for meeting irrigation history can obtain access to EQIP to address resource concerns.

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