NB_440_21_10 - NB 440-21-10 PGM – FY 2021 AMA and EQIP Application and Contract Funding Information
NB 440-21-10 PGM – FY 2021 AMA and EQIP Application and Contract Funding Information
National Bulletin: 440-21-10 Date: January 26, 2021
Subject: PGM – Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 Agricultural Management Assistance (AMA) and Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) Application and Contract Funding Information


Action Required By:  April 1, July 1, August 13, September 30, 2021
 
Purpose.  To provide national guidance to States for announcing sign-up and batching date periods, updating State web pages, funds assessments, and monitoring allocations for FY 2021, for the Agriculture Management Assistance (AMA) and Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Additionally, this directive establishes deadlines for States to complete FY 2021 AMA and EQIP fund obligations.   
 
Expiration Date.  September 30, 2021
 
Background.  The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (2018 Farm Bill) authorized NRCS to provide technical and financial assistance to producers through AMA and EQIP.
 

Explanation.  States must use the information in this bulletin, along with policy contained in Title 440, Conservation Programs Manual, Part 530 “Working Lands Conservation Program Manual”; National Instruction 440-310, “NRCS Program Ranking through Conservation Assessment Ranking Tool (CART)”; Annual Allocation Letter; and training, to prepare for and announce AMA and EQIP opportunities, complete assessments, accept and process applications, and evaluate requests for funding.

Signup Announcements and Batching

STCs may advertise AMA and EQIP program application periods and ranking deadlines. States should ensure that their internal deadlines allow them to comply with the nationally established deadline of August 13, 2021, to return unusable funds.

Availability of EQIP Funds

The FY 2021 State Initial Advisory Full Year Allocations letter was sent to all State Conservationists and Area Directors on November 4, 2020, under a 250 FNM memorandum. States should refer to this memorandum for distribution of general and national program and landscape conservation initiatives and financial assistance within their State.

Funding Targets

States should refer to Title 440, Part 530, “Working Lands Conservation Programs Manual”, and the FY 2021 allocation letter for 2018 Farm Bill for mandatory funding targets.

State Required Actions

Update State Webpage:

  • States must update State webpages in accordance with policy in 440-CPM-530-B-530.12 “Funding Preparation Activities.”

CART Ranking Pools and ProTracts Subaccounts – AMA and EQIP General:

  • States must establish subaccounts in ProTracts and corresponding ranking pools in CART. The subaccount name and the ranking pool name should match to link correctly.
  • States must use the guidance provided in NI 440-310 and the applicable attachments to create State ranking templates, and ranking pools.

Landscape Conservation Initiatives (LCI):

  • NHQ provided States with their LCI allocations through the 250 FNM FY2021 Allocations memorandum.
  • States will follow NI 440-310 to establish LCI subaccounts and ranking pools in CART.

EQIP-Conservation Incentive Contracts (EQIP-CIC):

  • Guidance will be issued under a separate directive. State training and rollout materials for EQIP CIC will soon be available.

Obligations:

  • The EQIP pre-obligation checklist must be completed for each application prior to applications for funding (obligation). AMA does not require a pre-obligation checklist to be completed.
  • NRCS-CPA-1155 “Schedule of Operation” will be used to record historically underserved participants’ elections to receive advance payments.
  • All AMA and EQIP allocations must be completed by September 30, 2021.

Note: States will complete a 5 percent administrative review of participant certifications during the first year of the contract (before payment is made) for participants who self-certify as limited resource, beginning, or veteran, farmer or rancher. Refer to 440 Part 530.71C “Administrative Review of Participant Certifications.”

Funds Assessment:

  • States will use the FAPD SharePoint “Funds Assessment” site to request allocation changes: https://usdagcc.sharepoint.com/sites/nrcs_programs/fapd/FundsAssessment/default.aspx.
  • States who do not have enough eligible applications to use their entire allocation must return excess financial assistance (FA) and associated technical assistance (TA) funds as soon as possible to allow for redistribution to other States. Any unused national program or landscape initiative funds, including disaster funds, must be returned to NHQ for redistribution.
  • When returning FA funds, States must also return the appropriate amount of TA. Refer to the “Fiscal Year 2020 State Initial Full Year Allocations” memorandum for TA return rates by program.
  • NHQ has established two “Funds Assessment” periods for States to request additional funds—April 1, 2020 and July 1, 2020. Additional information and guidance on the funds assessments will be issued through a separate a national bulletin.

Allocation Monitoring:

  • States are encouraged to set internal milestones for application processing and obligations to ensure national deadlines are met.

    Note: States must return any unusable funds no later than August 13, 2021.
 
Contact.  For questions related to information in this bulletin, contact Ronnie Maurer, Financial Assistance Programs – Programs Branch, Acting Branch Chief, at Ronnie.maurer@usda.gov; or request information through the appropriate State contact at the FAPD SharePoint.
 
 

 /s/

 JIMMY BRAMBLETT
 Deputy Chief for Programs

 
 
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