What is NRCS?
The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is an agency of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Their mission is to deliver conservation solutions so agricultural producers can protect natural resources and feed a growing world. NRCS envisions a world of clean and abundant water, healthy soils, resilient landscapes, and thriving agricultural communities through voluntary conservation.
What does this mean for you?
- Farmers, ranchers and forest landowners can receive financial assistance from NRCS to make improvements to their land
- NRCS conservationists provide technical expertise and conservation planning for farmers, ranchers and forest landowners wanting to make conservation improvements to their land.
- NRCS provides incentives to farmers, ranchers and forest landowners wanting to put wetlands, agricultural land, grasslands and forests under long-term easements.
How does NRCS work with IERCD?
The National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD), in cooperation with the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), funds technical assistance (TA) grants to local conservation districts and other district partners to build capacity and provide increased conservation planning and technical assistance to regional growers. Learn more here.
The NACD TA funds support boots on the ground in Inland Empire RCD and Coachella Valley RDC through a regional partnership that aims to carry out farmer outreach and conservation planning, promoting the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) programs. Project work primarily consists of reaching historically underserved farmers in both Districts with information on the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), conservation planning, and Conservation Operations Technical Assistance (COTA). The project also supports farmers in implementing irrigation management practices.
Get Paid for On-Farm Conservation
The USDA NRCS Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) provides funding and technical assistance to farmers for new and existing on-farm conservation practices. The program covers many climate-friendly ag practices, like cover crops, resource-conserving crop rotations, buffer strips, rotational grazing, and more.
Here’s how it works:
- Contact your NRCS office to ask about CSP and fill out the simple, 4-page application form. (You can also find the form online here.) Note: To fill out the form, you will need a farm record number established with the Farm Service Agency (FSA). If you don’t already have one, call your local FSA office to obtain a farm number. Submitting the application form is the only step that must be completed by the initial program deadline.
- You will work with your NRCS agent using a computerized tool to analyze your farm’s eligibility for CSP, based on your current management system and the natural resources on your land. There are stewardship threshold requirements to participate in CSP.
- If you are eligible for the program, you'll work with an NRCS conservation planner to create a conservation plan for your farm.
- Your plan will be ranked against other requests for funding. If you score highly, you will be offered a contract (and funding).
- You will work with NRCS to carry out your contract.
Special note: CSP has funding set aside for farmers of color, veteran farmers, beginning farmers, and organic/transitioning farmers - so farmers in any of these groups may be more likely to have their applications funded. Also, the minimum annual payment is $1,500/farm, even if you only have a few acres to enroll. (The maximum annual payment is $40,000.)