Overview of the Natural Resources Conservation Service

Rincker Law Environmental Law, Food & Ag Law Leave a Comment

It's difficult to see in this picture but my father obtained EQIP monies to build a fence along the creek in our pasture to prevent further soil erosion.

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (“NRCS”) is another sub-agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (“USDA”).  NRCS was established in 1935 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.  It administers conservation programs to help preserve our natural resources and environment.  It manages several national centers including but not limited to the (1) National Soil Survey Center, (2) National Water and Climate Center, (3) National Water Management Center, and (4) National Agroforestry Center.  There is an office in each state and field offices in most New York counties.

The Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (the “Farm Bill”) established the following conservation programs:

  • Agricultural Management Assistance Program (“AMA”)
  • Chesapeake Bay Watershed Initiative (“CBWI”)
  • Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative (“CCPI”)
  • Conservation of Private Grazing Land Program
  • Conservation Reserve Program (administered by the Farm Service Agency)
  • Conservation Stewardship Program (“CSP”)
  • Environmental Quality Incentives Program (“EQIP”)
  • Agricultural Water Enhancement Program (“AWEP”)
  • Conservation Innovation Grants (“CIG”)
  • Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program (“FRPP”)
  • Grassland Reserve Program (“GRP”)
  • Healthy Forest Reserve Program (“HFRP”)
  • Small Watershed Rehabilitation Program
  • Wetlands Reserve Program (“WRP”)
  • Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (“WHIP”)

More specifically, Agriculture Management Assistance (“AMA”) is available to producers in 16 states, including New York, where participation in the Federal Crop Insurance Program is historically low.  The program pays up to 75% of the cost of installing certain conservation practices ($50,000 max per year).

Furthermore, under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (“EQIP”), the Agricultural Water Enhancement Program (“AWEP”) enters into partnership agreements with agricultural producers to plan and implement conservation practices.

NRCS also has easement programs affecting agriculture including the Farm and Ranch Land Protection Program (“FRPP”) aimed to purchase development rights to keep farmland in agricultural production.

There are several other NRCS programs affecting U.S. farms.  For more information, you are encouraged to visit your local Field Office.

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