NB_300_22_12 - NB 300-22-12 LTP- Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 Environmental Quality Incentives Program- Conservation Incentive Contract (EQIP-CIC) Evaluation and Obligation
NB 300-22-12 LTP- Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 Environmental Quality Incentives Program- Conservation Incentive Contract (EQIP-CIC) Evaluation and Obligation
National Bulletin: 300-22-12    Date: November 23, 2021  
Subject: LTP- Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 Environmental Quality Incentives Program- Conservation Incentive Contract (EQIP-CIC) Evaluation and Obligation


Action Required By:   December 30, 2021, January 28, 2022, August 5, 2022, August 30, 2022   
 
Purpose.   To provide guidance to State Conservationists (STCs) and Directors of the Caribbean and Pacific Islands Areas, information to prepare for, evaluate and approve FY 2022 EQIP-CIC applications for funding.    
 
Expiration Date.   September 30, 2022   
 
Background.   The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 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 focus for FY 2022 is on Climate Smart Agriculture and Forestry and drought mitigation. EQIP-CIC provides payments for incentive practices (attachment A). EQIP-CIC can be a steppingstone for producers between EQIP classic and the Conservation Stewardship Program.
     
 

Explanation.   States must use the guidance in this bulletin along with policy contained in Title 440, Conservation Programs Manual (CPM), Part 530 “Working Lands Conservation Program Manual;” National Instruction (NI) 440-310, “NRCS Program Ranking through Conservation Assessment Ranking Tool (CART);” the FY 2022 State advisory allocation letter; and training to prepare for and announce EQIP-CIC signup, complete assessments, accept and process applications, and evaluate requests for funding.

Sign-Up Announcements and Application Cutoff Date

States must provide public notice of the FY 2022 signup period for EQIP-CIC by December 30, 2021. STCs may set State application sign-up cutoff and internal ranking deadlines. States should ensure that their internal deadlines comply with the nationally established deadline of August 5, 2022, to return their unused funds. Additional media documents including a Fact Sheet are forthcoming.

Availability of EQIP-CIC Funds

States will not receive a separate allocation for EQIP-CIC. States will allocate at least $200,000 or 5 percent of their EQIP General allocation, whichever is greater, to EQIP-CIC for FY22. States must not allocate more than 20 percent of the EQIP General allocation to EQIP-CIC.

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.”

Select High Priority Area(s) (HPAs), Priority Resource Concerns (PRCs) and relevant land uses:

• In consultation with the State Technical Committee, States will identify areas of High Priority
o HPAs must represent areas of significant concern
o States must identify at least one high priority area within every region of the state. When establishing regions states may consider:
 Administrative Areas
 Biophysical (such as watersheds, MLRAs, or others)
 Agroecological (such as areas predominately cropland or pastoral)
 The entire state if no significant differences exist
o HPAs may encompass an entire State or overlap with other HPAs.

• In consultation with the State Technical Committee, States will identify PRCs
o States may identify up to 3 PRCs for each relevant land use within an HPA
o PRCs will be selected at the Resource Concern Category level
o PRCs selected must be a subset of the 8 State identified CSP PRCs
o The same PRCs may be used for more than one land use within the same HPA
o For each PRC, States will identify the incentive practices that will be available.

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 “EQIP-CIC.”
• States must use the guidance provided in NI 440-310 and the applicable attachments to create State ranking templates and ranking pools.
• States must set up a geospatial layer for each high priority area. See attachment C of this bulletin for guidance on setting up the geospatial layer. Deadline for States to complete their geospatial layer is January 28, 2022.

Applications:

• All applications for EQIP-CIC need to have the application type of “Incentive” in ProTracts.

Scheduling Practices:

• As appropriate, planners must schedule management practices to recur for the remaining years of the contract after the first year scheduled.
• Management practices may be scheduled for a full five years if practicable.
• Management practices will have the “annual” box checked in ProTracts to indicate they are paid annually.
• Expiration date of all EQIP-CIC contracts will be set to December 31 of the 5th year of the contract. To ensure the full 5 years are met, contracts obligated in FY 2022 will have an expiration date of 12/31/2027.

Obligations:

• EQIP-CICs are a stand-alone contract.
• Follow guidance in 440-CPM-530-Subpart E for contract development, including use of the new EQIP-CIC Pre-Obligation Checklist (attachment D). See to 440-CPM-530.420B, “EQIP Incentives Pre-obligation Checklist”.
• EQIP-CICs have their own appendix (attachment B) 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.



Payments:

• Annual Payments- EQIP-CIC management practices (attachment A) will serve as annual payments and be paid annually. Payments for annual practices will be made as soon as practicable after October 1 of each fiscal year.
• Implementation Payments- Supporting or facilitating practices scheduled in EQIP-CIC will serve as implementation payments and be paid as soon as practicable after certification of the practice.
• Advanced payments will be available for EQIP-CIC management practices (attachment A) and any supporting practices scheduled in the contract.
• High Priority Practice and Source Water Protection practice scenarios will be available in EQIP- CIC for the increased payment rate.
• States will utilize existing EQIP payment schedules for EQIP-CIC.

States must complete all EQIP-CIC obligations by August 30, 2022.

Allocation Monitoring:

• States are encouraged to set internal deadlines for application processing and obligations to ensure national deadlines are met.
• States may request additional funds for EQIP-CIC during the annual funding assessment periods, pending availability of funds. Conversely, States should return unused FA and associated TA funds as soon as practicable.

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 Eligible Practices.

Attachment B- EQIP-CIC Appendix.

Attachment C- Guidance for State set-up of EQIP-CIC geospatial layer.

Attachment D- EQIP-CIC Pre-obligation Checklist    

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