USDA-NRCS Announced New, Expanded Opportunities for Conservation Programs
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) announced several new and expanded opportunities for conservation practices. Two announcements specifically related to Conservation Incentive Contracts and the Conservation Stewardship Program may be of interest to Arizona Farm Bureau members and partners.
Conservation Incentive Contracts
This program was created in the 2018 Farm Bill, and four states piloted this program in 2021. NRCS is expanding this program to be available nationwide. EQIP Conservation Incentive Contracts address priority resource concerns, including sequestering carbon and improving soil health in high-priority areas. Conservation Incentive Contracts offer producers annual incentive payments to implement management practices as well as conservation evaluation and monitoring activities to help manage, maintain and improve priority natural resource concerns within state high-priority areas and build on existing conservation efforts.
For more information about eligible practices, please review the CIS Fact Sheet.
Conservation Stewardship Program
NRCS updated CSP to allow an agricultural producer to immediately re-enroll in the program following an unfunded application to renew an existing contract. Previously, if a CSP participant did not re-enroll the year their contract expired, they were ineligible for the program for two years. This ineligibility was imposed on CSP participants even if their failure to sign a renewal contract was due to the unavailability of funds, which is beyond their control. USDA is now waiving this two-year ineligibility restriction for all CSP applications.
Applicants with unfunded fiscal 2022 CSP renewals will receive letters this month, notifying them they are automatically eligible to apply for future CSP funding opportunities, rather than needing to wait two years to reapply.
How To Apply
NRCS accepts applications for conservation programs – including EQIP and CSP – year-round, however producers and landowners should apply by state-specific, signup dates to be considered for each year’s funding. To apply, producers should contact their local USDA Service Center.