The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) is a United States government program designed to assist farmers in improving environmental quality, particularly water quality and soil conservation. Congress established the program in the 1996 farm bill to provide primarily cost-sharing assistance, but also technical and educational assistance, aimed at promoting production and environmental quality, and optimizing environmental benefits.
The program replaced the Agricultural Conservation Program, the Water Quality Incentives Program, the Great Plains Conservation Program, and the Colorado River Basin Salinity Control Program. EQIP was reauthorized in the 2002 farm bill at $0.4 billion in mandatory spending in FY2002 and rising to $1.3 billion in FY2007. The funding each year is to be divided, with 60% targeted to environmental concerns associated with livestock production and the remainder to crop production. Producers enter into contracts of 1 to 10 years. Participants can receive no more than $450,000 between FY2002 and FY2007. Two new sub programs were created; one provides matching grants for innovative conservation efforts, such as using market systems to reduce pollution and promoting carbon sequestration in soil; and, the second is the Ground and Surface Water Conservation Program (GSWP).
The program's financial aid to farmers in purchasing more efficient irrigation equipment was intended to conserve water. The assistance has had the unintended consequence of increasing water use and lowering water tables in the Great Plains as additional land was brought into cultivation to use the water that was "saved."
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- United States. Federal Agriculture Improvement and Reform Act of 1996. Pub.L. 104–127 (text) (pdf) Approved April 4, 1996.
- United States. Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002. Pub.L. 107–171 (text) (pdf). Approved May 13, 2002. Sec. 1241.
- Ron Nixon (June 6, 2013). "Farm Subsidies Leading to More Water Use". The New York Times. Retrieved June 7, 2013.
- "Environmental Quality Incentives Program". U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service. Retrieved 2020-05-17.
- United States. Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018. Pub.L. 115–334 (text) (pdf) Approved 2018-12-20.
- This article incorporates public domain material from the Congressional Research Service document: Jasper Womach. "Report for Congress: Agriculture: A Glossary of Terms, Programs, and Laws, 2005 Edition" (PDF).