Wednesday, November 24, 2021

NRCS-PA Announces Conservation Funding Opportunities For FY2022

On November 23, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced fiscal year 2022 assistance opportunities for agricultural producers and private landowners for key programs, such as the
Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), Agricultural Management Assistance (AMA) program, and Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP). 

While USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) accepts applications for these programs year-round, producers and landowners should apply for AMA and EQIP by January 1, 2022 and ACEP by January 4, 2022 to be considered for this year’s funding.

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 Pennsylvania’s natural resources and for your operation’s bottom line,” said Denise Coleman, NRCS State Conservationist in Pennsylvania. “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 representatives from conservation and agricultural-related organizations, 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 their state’s 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 online. Applications received after ranking dates will be automatically deferred to the next funding period.

Program Options

EQIP provides cost share assistance for producers to use 170-plus conservation practices to address a wide variety of resource concerns. Within EQIP, Conservation Incentive Contracts allow producers to further target priority resource concerns. 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 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 nationwide with an emphasis on CSAF practices.

To participate in USDA conservation programs, applicants should be farmers or farm or forest landowners and must meet eligibility criteria by the application date. 

To take advantage of NRCS technical assistance and expertise or federally funded conservation on your farm or land, please contact your local USDA NRCS Field Office, or visit the NRCS website for program information.

For more information on financial and technical assistance available in Pennsylvania, visit the NRCS in Pennsylvania webpage.

[Posted: November 24, 2021]  PA Environment Digest

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