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Program Listing

Program List

Conservation Technical Assistance (CTA)

Contact: USDA, Natural Resources Conservation Service

The purpose of the program is to assist land-users, communities, units of state and local government, and other Federal agencies in planning and implementing conservation systems. The purpose of the conservation systems is to reduce erosion, improve soil and water quality, improve and conserve wetlands, enhance fish and wildlife habitat, improve air quality, improve pasture and range condition, reduce upstream flooding, and improve woodlands.

Objectives of the program are to:

  • Assist individual land users, communities, conservation districts, and other units of state and local government and federal agencies to meet their goals for resource stewardship and assist individuals to comply with state and local requirements. NRCS assistance to individuals is provided through conservation districts in accordance with the memorandum of understanding signed by the Secretary of Agriculture, the Governor of the State, and the conservation district. Assistance is provided to land users voluntarily applying conservation and to those who must comply with local or state laws and regulations.
  • Assist agricultural producers to comply with the highly erodible land (HEL) and wetland (Swampbuster) provisions of the 1985 Food Security Act as amended by the Food, Agriculture, Conservation and Trade Act of 1990 (16 U.S.C.3801 et. seq.) and the Federal Agriculture Improvement and Reform Act of 1996 and wetlands requirements of Section 404 of the Clean Water Act. NRCS makes HEL and wetland determinations and helps land users develop and implement conservation plans to comply with the law.
  • Provide technical assistance to participants in USDA cost-share and conservation incentive programs. (Assistance is funded on a reimbursable basis from the CCC.)
  • Collect, analyze, interpret, display, and disseminate information about the condition and trends of the Nation's soil and other natural resources so that people can make good decisions about resource use and about public policies for resource conservation.
  • Develop effective science-based technologies for natural resource assessment, management, and conservation.

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Conservation Farm Option (CFO)

Contact: USDA, Farm Service Agency or Natural Resources Conservation Service

The Conservation Farm Option is a pilot program for producers of wheat, feed grains, cotton, and rice. The program's purposes include conservation of soil, water, and related resources, water quality protection and improvement, wetland restoration, protection and creation, wildlife habitat development and protection, or other similar conservation purposes. Eligibility is limited to owners and producers who have contract acreage enrolled in the Agricultural Market Transition Act program, i.e. production flexibility contracts. The CFO is a voluntary program. Participants are required to develop and implement a conservation farm plan. The plan becomes part of the CFO contract which covers a ten year period. CFO is not restricted as to what measures may be included in the conservation plan, so long as they provide environmental benefits. During the contract period the owner or producer (1.) receives annual payments for implementing the CFO contract and (2.) agrees to forgo payments under the Conservation Reserve Program, the Wetlands Reserve Program, and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program in exchange for one consolidated payment.

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Conservation of Private Grazing Land Initiative (CPGL)

Contact: USDA, Natural Resources Conservation Service

The Conservation of Private Grazing Land initiative will ensure that technical, educational, and related assistance is provided to those who own private grazing lands. It is not a cost share program. This technical assistance will offer opportunities for: better grazing land management, protecting soil from erosive wind and water, using more energy-efficient ways to produce food and fiber, conserving water, providing habitat for wildlife, sustaining forage and grazing plants; using plants to sequester greenhouse gases and increase soil organic matter, and using grazing lands as a source of biomass energy and raw materials for industrial products.
More information can be found at the Grazing Lands Technology Institute.

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Conservation Plant Material Centers

Contact: USDA, Natural Resources Conservation Service

The purpose of the program is to provide native plants that can help solve natural resource problems. Beneficial uses for which plant material may be developed include biomass production, carbon sequestration, erosion reduction, wetland restoration, water quality improvement, streambank and riparian area protection, coastal dune stabilization, and other special conservation treatment needs. Scientists at the Plant Materials Centers seek out plants that show promise for meeting an identified conservation need and test their performance. After species are proven, they are released to the private sector for commercial production. The work at the 26 centers is carried out cooperatively with state and federal agencies, commercial businesses, and seed and nursery associations.

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Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)

Contact: USDA, Natural Resources Conservation Service

The Environmental Quality Incentives Program provides technical, educational, and financial assistance to eligible farmers and ranchers to address soil, water, and related natural resource concerns on their lands in an environmentally beneficial and cost-effective manner. The program provides assistance to farmers and ranchers in complying with Federal, State, and tribal environmental laws, and encourages environmental enhancement. The program is funded through the Commodity Credit Corporation. The purposes of the program are achieved through the implementation of a conservation plan which includes structural, vegetative, and land management practices on eligible land. Five to ten-year contracts are made with eligible producers. Cost-share payments may be made to implement one or more eligible structural or vegetative practices, such as animal waste management facilities, terraces, filter strips, tree planting, and permanent wildlife habitat. Incentive payments can be made to implement one or more land management practices, such as nutrient management, pest management, and grazing land management.

Fifty percent of the funding available for the program will be targeted at natural resource concerns relating to livestock production. The program is carried out primarily in priority areas that may be watersheds, regions, or multi-state areas, and for significant statewide natural resource concerns that are outside of geographic priority areas.
For additional information on what is available in Nebraska, click here.

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Soil Survey Programs

Contact: USDA, Natural Resources Conservation Service

The National Cooperative Soil Survey Program (NCSS) is a partnership led by NRCS of federal land management agencies, state agricultural experiment stations and state and local units of government that provide soil survey information necessary for understanding, managing, conserving and sustaining the nation's limited soil resources.

Soil surveys provide an orderly, on-the-ground, scientific inventory of soil resources that includes maps showing the locations and extent of soils, data about the physical and chemical properties of those soils, and information derived from that data about potentialities and problems of use on each kind of soil in sufficient detail to meet all reasonable needs for farmers, agricultural technicians, community planners, engineers, and scientists in planning and transferring the findings of research and experience to specific land areas. Soil surveys provide the basic information needed to manage soil sustainably. They also provide information needed to protect water quality, wetlands, and wildlife habitat. Soil surveys are the basis for predicting the behavior of a soil under alternative uses, its potential erosion hazard, potential for ground water contamination, suitability and productivity for cultivated crops, trees, and grasses. Soil surveys are important to planners, engineers, zoning commissions, tax commissioners, homeowners, developers, as well as agricultural producers. Soil surveys also provide a basis to help predict the effect of global climate change on worldwide agricultural production and other land-dependent processes. The NRCS Soil Survey Division through its World Soil Resources Staff helps gather and interpret soil information for global use.

NRCS provides the soil surveys for the privately owned lands of the nation and, through its National Soil Survey Center, provides scientific expertise to enable the NCSS to develop and maintain a uniform system for mapping and assessing soil resources so that soil information from different locations can be shared, regardless of which agency collects it. NRCS provides most of the training in soil survey to Federal agencies and assists other Federal agencies with their soil inventories on a reimbursable basis. NRCS is also responsible for developing the standards and mechanisms for providing digital soil information for the national spatial data infrastructure required by Executive Order 12906.

Click here for additional soils information.

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