1466.6 Program requirements.§ 1466.6 Program requirements.
(a) General. Program participation is voluntary. An applicant must develop an EQIP plan of operations for the eligible land to be treated which serves as the basis for the EQIP contract. Under EQIP, NRCS provides participants with technical assistance and payments to plan and apply needed conservation practices.
(b) Applicant eligibility. To be eligible to participate in EQIP, an applicant must -
(1) Be in compliance with the highly erodible land and wetland conservation provisions at 7 CFR part 12;
(2) Be a producer as determined by NRCS;
(3) Have control of the land for the term of the proposed contract unless an exception is made by the Chief in the case of land administered by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), Indian lands, or other instances in which the Chief determines sufficient assurance of control;
(i) The Chief may determine that land administered by BIA, Indian land, or other such circumstances provides sufficient assurance of control, and
(ii) If the applicant is a tenant of the land involved in agricultural production or forestry management, the Chief may require the applicant to obtain the written concurrence of the landowner to apply a conservation practice;
(4) Agree to implement the EQIP plan of operations according to the provisions and conditions established in the EQIP contract, including the EQIP contract appendix;
(5) Submit an EQIP plan of operations or plan developed for the purposes of acquiring an air or water quality permit, provided these plans contain elements equivalent to those elements required by an EQIP plan of operations and are acceptable to NRCS as being consistent with the purposes of the program;
(6) Supply information, as required by NRCS, to determine eligibility for the program, including but not limited to, information to verify the applicant's status as a historically underserved producer, and payment eligibility as established by 7 CFR part 1400; and
(7) Provide a list of all members of the legal entity and embedded entities along with members' tax identification numbers and percentage interest in the entity.
(c) Consideration for enrollment of eligible land. Eligible land, as defined in § 1466.3, may be considered for enrollment in EQIP only if NRCS determines that the land is -
(1) Privately owned land;
(2) Publicly owned land where -
(i) The land is a working component of the participant's agricultural or forestry operation,
(ii) The participant has control of the land for the term of the contract, and
(iii) The conservation practices to be implemented on the public land are necessary and will contribute to an improvement in the identified resource concern; or
(3) Indian land.
(d) Eligibility of a water management entity. (1) Notwithstanding paragraphs (b) and (c) of this section, NRCS may enter into an EQIP contract with a water management entity provided the criteria in paragraphs (d)(1)(i), (ii), and (iii) of this section can be met:
(i) The entity is a public or semipublic agency or organization,
(ii) Its purpose is to assist private agricultural producers manage water distribution or conservation systems, and
(iii) The water conservation or irrigation practices support a water conservation project under § 1466.20(c) that will effectively conserve water, provide fish and wildlife habitat, or provide for drought-related environmental mitigation, as determined by the Chief.
(2) Water conservation or irrigation practices that are the subject of a contract entered into under paragraph (d)(1) of this section shall be implemented on -
(i) Eligible land of a producer; or
(ii) Land that is -
(A) Under the control of the water management entity, and
(B) Adjacent to eligible land of a producer, provided the Chief determines the adjacent land is necessary to support the installation of a practice or system implemented on eligible land.
(3)(i) The Chief may waive the average adjusted gross income limitation set forth in 7 CFR part 1400 or the aggregate payment limitation set forth in § 1466.24 of this part for a contract under paragraph (d)(1) of this section if the Chief determines that the waiver is necessary to fulfill the objectives of the project.
(ii) In determining whether to grant a waiver under this paragraph, the Chief shall consider -
(A) The number of producers who will benefit from the project;
(B) The conservation benefit of the practices involved in the project;
(C) The amount of non-federal assets leveraged to facilitate the project;
(D) The extent to which the project involves progressive implementation of conservation practices; and
(E) Other criteria as determined by NRCS.
(iii) Notwithstanding any waiver of the aggregate payment limitation, a water management entity or individual member thereof shall not receive, in the aggregate, directly or indirectly, payments under this paragraph, in aggregate, in excess of $900,000 for all contracts entered into under this paragraph by the water management entity during the period of fiscal years 2019 through 2023.[84 FR 69280, Dec. 17, 2019, as amended at 85 FR 67647, Oct. 26, 2020]