Montana Environmental Quality Incentives Programlast updated: March 2007

Program Description

Since 1997, the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) has brought over 100 million dollars to Montana’s private landowners assisting them with land conservation. 

Depending on the county, a producer may have more than one choice of EQIP funding sources. Each county will receive a county allocation. All applications for the county allocation compete within the county for those funds. All applications for Animal Feeding Operations (AFOs)/Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) are also submitted to the local NRCS office by the application deadline. However, after ranking these applications are forwarded to the NRCS state office where the application competes statewide for funding. If an American Indian Reservation lies within a county, eligible participants may choose instead to compete for EQIP funds specifically set aside for American Indian lands. All applications for these funds earmarked for American Indians must also be submitted to the appropriate local NRCS office for ranking before the application cut-off date.

Another option for funding contracts is through the Ground and Surface Water provisions of EQIP. These contracts must facilitate a net increase to ground or surface water on the ag operation. Ground and surface applications use a different ranking criteria and are submitted to the local NRCS office by the application cut-off date for forwarding to the NRCS state office where the applications compete statewide.

In all, there are many potential ranking criteria used in Montana: one for the Ground and Surface Water provision of EQIP; one for funds earmarked for American Indians; and five different county criteria for the 5 natural resource areas (these can then be slightly modified for each county with the Local Work Groups able to assess 50 additional points). These options provide multiple opportunities for producers to address natural resource needs on private lands in Montana. 

EQIP cost-sharing for conservation practices will be offered five different ways:

  1. on a county-by-county basis,
  2. a state pool for animal feeding operations (AFO) and confined animal feeding operations (CAFO),
  3. a state pool for tribal lands,
  4. a state pool for special initiatives to address specific natural resource concerns, and
  5. a state pool for the Ground and Surface Water provisions of EQIP.

2007 County EQIP Information 


Landowners first contact their local county Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) office. NRCS staff will meet with the landowner to discuss the landowners ideas and discuss alternatives and recommendations. Together a conservation plan is developed that incorporates the landowner’s objectives with ideas to help make their resources more sustainable.

If conservation practices are identified as needed, a landowner can decide to apply to any one of a handful of conservation programs offered by USDA. The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) offers cost share assistance up to a maximum of 75% (90% for Beginning Farmers or Limited Resource Producers) for installing new conservation practices or incentive payments for trying new management techniques.

Sign Up

To apply for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), you will need to fill out the Conservation Program Contract Form CCC-1200 and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program Contract Appendix To Form CCC-1200.

After submitting your application at your local USDA Service Center, a certified conservation planner will assist you in developing a plan to address the resource concerns on your farm. They will also work with you to complete a scoring worksheet for your application. Submitted applications are ranked, with the highest priority given to those applications in each region with the highest score.

Contact Montana Environmental Quality Incentives Program

Contact Montana Environmental Quality Incentives Program

Carrie Mosley
10 East Babcock Street
Federal Building, Room 443
Bozeman, Montana  59715
Phone: 406-587-6967
Fax: 406-587-6761


Service Area

National Program

Office Locaters

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Related Success Stories for Montana Environmental Quality Incentives Program

Cheney Lake Water Quality Project
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District,NRCS target irrigation water quality
NRCS and Central Platte Natural Resources District use EQIP and district cost share funds to target cost-share funds at priority water quality irrigation farmers.

Iowa Buffer Team
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Missouri SWCD/NRCS Partnership
Missouri NRCS' partnership with local soil and water conservation districts is tops in reducing soil erosion and protecting water quality.

Peach Resource Renewal Project
Conservation Innovation Grants are part of the 2002 Farm Bill and were established as part of the Environmental Quality Incentives Program administered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Salt Cedar Brush Management
Texas Landowners with federal cost-share funds are eradicating Salt Cedar in sections of the Canadian River to increase flow and benefit listed fish species.

Suwannee River Partnership
The Partnership is working with producers to improve river water quality through a voluntary program of Best Management Practices (BMP) and verification.