COLUMBUS — Expiration of the farm bill and the recently passed Continuing Resolution allows the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service to offer some farm bill conservation programs, but not all, according to Dot Harris, Ohio’s Assistant State Conservationist for Programs.
In addition, the federal government shutdown suspended NRCS work on existing conservation program contracts, delaying certification of practices installed during that time frame. Conservation program contract holders that installed practices during the government shutdown should notify their local NRCS field office so NRCS can certify the practices as completed and process payments for those practices.
The continuing resolution provides funding for the Environmental Incentives Program. In Ohio, NRCS will review and rank eligible EQIP applications submitted by Nov. 15 for funding. If additional EQIP funding is available, NRCS may offer additional application periods. Eligible agricultural producers can apply for EQIP anytime.
The continuing resolution provides funding for the Conservation Stewardship Program. Like EQIP, any eligible agricultural producer can apply for CSP anytime. In Ohio, NRCS has not yet announced an application selection date this year.
The Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program (FRPP) The continuing resolution provides funding for the Farm and Ranch Lands
In Ohio, NRCS will announce the deadline for cooperating entities to submit applications this year.
Expired conservation programs. Several conservation program authorities lapsed when the farm bill expired. These include the Wetlands Reserve Program, Grasslands Reserve Program, Healthy Forest Reserve Program, and the Conservation Reserve Program. NRCS cannot accept new applications for these programs at this time. NRCS will continue to assist with agreements from prior years to complete easement closings and restoration activities and to ensure conservation practice implementation.