How to fund conservation plans

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Once you’ve taken the time to work with an NRCS agent to determine best practices for your land and have developed a conservation plan, you might be wondering how you will fund these new projects.

NRCS offers voluntary programs to eligible landowners and agricultural producers to provide financial and technical assistance. Here is a brief summary of some financial programs available through NRCS.

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1Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)
EQIP is a voluntary program that provides financial and technical assistance for producers to plan and implement conservation practices that improve agricultural land and non-industrial private forestland. Eligible land includes cropland, rangeland, pastureland, non-industrial private forestland and other farm lands.

Financial assistance payments are made to eligible producers, to implement approved conservation practices on eligible land or help producers develop conservation plans to address certain issues. Payments are made based on completion of practices or activities identified in the EQIP contract, and rates are set each fiscal year.

2Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP)
CSP helps agricultural producers maintain and improve their existing conservation systems and adopt additional conservation activities to address priority resources concerns. Participants earn CSP payments for conservation performance — the higher the performance, the higher the payment.

3Agricultural Management Assistance (AMA)
AMA provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers to voluntarily address issues such as water management, water quality, and erosion control by incorporating conservation into their farming operations. AMA is available in Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

AMA pays financial assistance of up to 75 percent of the cost of installing conservation practices — payments not exceeding $50,000 per fiscal year. Participants must be engaged in livestock or agricultural production, have control of the land for the term of the proposed contract and be within appropriate payment limitation requirements.

This month we will break down different services provided by the NRCS each week, wrapping the series up with how you can get started with NRCS.

Next week: Easements.

Sources: For more details on each of these programs and to find more programs visit nrcs.usda.gov.

(Farm and Dairy is featuring a series of “101” columns throughout the year to help young and beginning farmers master farm living. From finances to management to machinery repair and animal care, farmers do it all.)

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