How to Submit an Environmental Quality Incentives Program Comment

In December 2019, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released a new rule for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). This rule acts as the blueprint for how the program will operate. If you are a farmer or rancher who has used EQIP, or is interested in it, we encourage you to write a comment on the rule.

This page provides instructions for how to submit your comment to USDA. We look forward to working with you to ensure that farmers’ and ranchers' voices are heard in this process. If you have any questions, or would like to talk through tailoring your own comment with us, please reach out to kateh@cfra.org or annaj@cfra.org or 515.215.1294.

How to submit a comment

Deadline: Feb. 18, 2020

Follow the instructions below to submit your comment to USDA. 

Preparing your comment

  1. Draft your comment. We recommend working from a file on a personal computer and saving often.
     
  2. NEW: Check out our comment template by clicking here. Feel free to use our suggested text in your comment, however, your comment will have a greater impact if you include personal information about your operation and your experiences with the program, and why you think EQIP is valuable.
     
  3. Please be sure to include the following text in your comment:

    I am writing in response to “Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP),” from Federal Register Volume 84, No. 242, pages 69272-69293, published Tuesday, December 17, 2019, Docket number NRCS-2019-0009.
     
  4. We recommend saving your final comment as a PDF. Consider adding personal touches such as a signature or letterhead.

Submitting your comment

  1. Click this link to go to the comment submission page at regulations.gov.
     
  2. Upload your saved comment file by clicking “choose files.”
     
  3. Fill in your personal information. 
     
  4. Note that personal information is not required. You can submit anonymously. However, we suggest putting your name, city, and state if you are not comfortable putting more information. Comments with names are typically taken more seriously.
     
  5. Click “continue.”
     
  6. Check the box indicating that you have read the privacy statement.
     
  7. Click “submit.”
     
  8. Email annaj@cfra.org or kateh@cfra.org to let us know that you submitted a comment.

Comment template

Our comment template below focuses on two issues of greatest concern with the changes to EQIP. Please see this template as a guideline. Your comment will have the most impact if it also contains your personal story. Click here for the pdf version.

Matt Lohr​
Chief, Natural Resources Conservation Service
U.S. Department of Agriculture
Washington, DC 20250

Dear Chief Lohr,

I am writing in response to “Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP),” from Federal Register Volume 84, No. 242, pages 69272-69293, published Tuesday, December 17, 2019, Docket number NRCS-2019-0009.

[Include your story about your operation, your experiences with EQIP and conservation, and why you consider EQIP a valuable program.]

Here are some things you should consider while making changes to EQIP:

Increase EQIP emphasis on soil health. Soil health is the foundation of long-term land stewardship for both farming and grazing. Farming and ranching practices that build soil health reap numerous benefits, such as decreased input costs and increased resilience to both heavy rainfall and drought. The 2018 farm bill increased EQIP’s ability to promote soil health practices by adding soil remediation that “regenerates and sustains the soil” as an eligible conservation activity. But NRCS needs to do more to emphasize soil health within EQIP. We request that NRCS do this in three ways. First, NRCS should add building soil health as a national priority for the program. NRCS should also work to ensure that staff at all levels are trained on the importance of soil health and also on which conservation practices build soil health. Finally, NRCS should offer robust soil health practice options to farmers and ranchers seeking to enroll in EQIP. 

Don’t squeeze out family farms from participating in EQIP. The 2018 farm bill caps EQIP contracts at a maximum of $450,000 for anyone applying. However, for the first time NRCS is now trying to allow both very large farms and water management entities to apply for contracts as large as $900,000. Allowing NRCS to fund these very large contracts at a higher level than everyone else is not only unfair, it will reduce the amount of funding available to family farmers seeking cost-share assistance with EQIP. We ask NRCS to enforce a maximum payment for all EQIP contracts at $450,000, as the 2018 farm bill requires. 

Thank you for your consideration, [your name]

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