Oct 31, 2021NRCS announces California conservation funding opportunities for 2022
The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) announced fiscal year 2022 assistance opportunities for agricultural producers and private landowners for key programs, such as the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), and Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP). While NRCS accepts applications for these programs year-round, producers and landowners should apply by state-specific, application cutoff dates to be considered for this year’s funding.
California application cutoff dates
- Sign-up Period 1 for EQIP: December 10, 2021
- Sign-up Period 2 for EQIP: April 1, 2022
- EQIP – Sage Grouse Initiative: May 6, 2022
- CSP: April 1, 2022
- ACEP: December 1, 2021
NRCS offers assistance at no cost to give our customers personalized advice and information, based on the latest science and research, to help them make informed decisions. If a producer chooses to take the next step towards improving their operations, we can work with them to develop a personalized conservation plan, with conservation practices that can help them reach their production and conservation goals.
The conservation plan defines and explains existing resources in a simple, easy to understand manner. Typically, the plan will include land use maps, soils information, inventory of resources, engineering notes, and other supporting information. One benefit to landowners who work with NRCS professional conservationist to develop a plan is an increased potential for participating in financial assistance programs and is a good first step in the overall process.
Landowners can also choose to apply for financial assistance to get help installing the conservation practices outlined in their conservation plan through any one of the programs mentioned above. Through conservation programs, NRCS provides technical and financial assistance to help producers and landowners make conservation improvements on their land that benefit natural resources, build resiliency and contribute to the nation’s broader effort to combat the impacts of climate change.
“NRCS conservation programs are good for California’s natural resources and for your operation’s bottom line,” said Carlos Suarez, NRCS State Conservationist in California. “Whether this is your first time working with NRCS or you want to take conservation to the next level on your land, we encourage you to contact your local NRCS field office to learn more.”
Applying for assistance
NRCS accepts applications for its conservation programs year-round. State Technical Committees, composed of producers and landowners, work with NRCS to set state-specific, ranking dates to evaluate applications for funding. These dates account for producer needs, staff workload, and ensure potential participants have ample opportunity to apply. Producers should apply by California-specific ranking dates to be considered for funding in the current cycle. Funding is provided through a competitive process.
Ranking dates for all programs and states are available at nrcs.usda.gov/staterankingdates. Applications received after application deadlines will be automatically deferred to the next funding period. Producers, landowners and forest managers interested in applying for assistance should contact the NRCS at their local USDA Service Center.
EQIP provides cost share assistance for producers to use 170-plus conservation practices to address a wide variety of resource concerns. CSP helps producers take their conservation activities to the next level through comprehensive conservation and advanced conservation activities. ACEP helps producers enroll wetlands, grasslands and farmlands into easements for long-term protection.
Historically underserved producer benefits
Special provisions are also available for historically underserved producers. For EQIP, historically underserved producers are eligible for advance payments to help offset costs related to purchasing materials or contracting services up front. In addition, historically underserved producers can receive higher EQIP payment rates (up to 90% of average cost). NRCS sets aside EQIP, CSP, and ACEP funds for historically underserved producers.
Conservation practices and climate
NRCS conservation programs play a critical role in USDA’s commitment to partnering with farmers, ranchers, forest landowners and local communities to deliver climate solutions that strengthen agricultural operations and rural America. States may prioritize a variety of voluntary conservation practices through these NRCS programs, including those that support climate-smart agriculture and forestry (CSAF).
In fiscal year 2022, EQIP and CSP will provide targeted funding for CSAF practices, and Conservation Incentive Contracts – a new EQIP program – will be available on a future date nationwide with an emphasis on CSAF practices. NRCS will also prioritize climate investments through ACEP and Conservation Innovation Grants.