NB_300_21_39 - NB 300-21-39 LTP - FY 2021 EQIP-CIC Pilot Application and Contract Funding Guidance for AZ, CA, CO, and OR
NB 300-21-39 LTP - FY 2021 EQIP-CIC Pilot Application and Contract Funding Guidance for AZ, CA, CO, and OR
National Bulletin: 300-21-39 Date: July 1, 2021
Subject: LTP- Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 Environmental Quality Incentives Program-Conservation Incentive Contract (EQIP-CIC) Pilot Application and Contract Funding Guidance for Arizona, California, Colorado, and Oregon


Action Required By:  July 12, 2021; August 13, 2021; and September 30, 2021
 

Purpose.  To provide guidance to State conservationists (STCs) on signup announcement, application signup cutoff date, State web page updates, processing applications, and completing obligations for FY 2021 for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program - Conservation Incentive Contracts (EQIP-CIC) Pilot.

This bulletin applies only to Arizona, California, Colorado, and Oregon.       

 
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 EQIP-CIC for the implementation, adoption, management, and maintenance of incentive practices that effectively address at least one eligible priority resource concern within a State-identified high priority area. The EQIP-CIC Pilot is to help eligible agricultural producers in Arizona, California, Colorado, and Oregon alleviate the immediate impacts of drought and related fire remediation as well as climate smart resiliency on working lands. EQIP-CIC provides payments for incentive practices, which are practices and enhancements.
 

Explanation.  The States in the Pilot must use the guidance 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);” and training to prepare for the announcement of EQIP-CIC signup, complete assessments, accept and process applications, and evaluate requests for funding.

Sign-Up Announcements and Application Cutoff Date

Public notice of the FY 2021 signup period for the EQIP-CIC Pilot was announced on June 12, 2021. The nationally established EQIP-CIC application sign-up cutoff is July 12, 2021. STCs must include the national signup deadline in their public notice(s). STCs may set their own internal ranking deadlines. States should ensure that their internal deadlines allow them to comply with the nationally established deadline of August 13, 2021, to return their unused funds.

Availability of EQIP-CIC Funds

The four States in the Pilot will receive an allocation for EQIP-CIC which has already been communicated to STC’s via memo on June 11, 2021. States may add to their allocation using funds from their EQIP General allocation. Any unused EQIP-CIC funds must be returned to NHQ through the Allotment Planning and Management (APM) tool for redistribution. Funding should address the impacts of drought as well as increase resiliency against drought and weather volatility. States should utilize climate smart practices wherever practicable. Refer to attachment B for list of climate smart practices.

State Required Actions

Update State Webpage:

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

CART Ranking Pools and ProTracts Subaccounts – EQIP-CIC:

  • 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 will choose the account type in ProTracts of “State.”
  • States must use the guidance provided in NI 440-310 to create State ranking templates and ranking pools.
  • CAP 106 (Forestry Management Plan,) is not an available practice under EQIP-CIC. However, the Department rolled out EQIP-CIC with Forestry Management Plans as an available practice. Due to the inclusion of these in the announcement, States that want to use CAP 106 can fund them under an EQIP-General fund pool using EQIP-CIC funds, and States will need to create a subaccount in ProTracts to identify that CAP 106 plans were funded with EQIP-CIC funds.

Example: “EQIP-CIC CAP 106.” This applies ONLY to CAP 106 and other CAP’s should NOT be funded with EQIP-CIC funds.

Obligations:

  • EQIP-CICs are separate contracts, and have a separate payment limitation, from EQIP general.
  • Follow guidance in 440-CPM-530-Subpart E, “Contract Development and Requirements”, for contract development, including use of the new EQIP-CIC Pre-Obligation Checklist. Refer to 440- CPM-530.420B, “EQIP Incentives Pre-obligation Checklist”.
  • EQIP-CICs have their own appendix (Attachment A) which must be used in conjunction with the NRCS-CPA-1202 “Conservation Program Contract.”
  • NRCS-CPA-1155 “Schedule of Operation” will be used to record historically underserved participants’ elections to receive advance payments for conservation practice implementation.
  • All contracts must expire on December 31st of the 5th year of the contract.

Note: Contracts obligated in FY2021 will need to have a manually entered expiration date of December 31, 2026.

  • States must complete all EQIP-CIC obligations by September 30, 2021.

Allocation Monitoring:

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

Note: States must complete a five 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 farmers or ranchers. Refer to 440 Part 530.71C “Administrative Review of
Participant Certifications.”

Trainings

All national EQIP-CIC Trainings and PowerPoints are available to States and are uploaded to the Deputy Chief for Programs SharePoint site under: Resources > Farm Bill Training Webinars > EQIP-CIC Trainings.

 
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 using the FAPD SharePoint.
 
 

 /s/

JIMMY BRAMBLETT
Deputy Chief for Programs

 
 
Attachment A - EQIP-CIC Appendix
Attachment B - List of Climate Smart Practices
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