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Conservation Activity Plan (CAP)

What Is A Conservation Activity Plan?

A Conservation Activity Plan or CAP can be developed for producers to identify conservation practices needed to address a specific natural resource need. Typically, these plans are specific to certain kinds of land use such as transitioning to organic operations, grazing land, forest land, or can also address a specific resource need such a plan for management of nutrients or to address an air quality concern.  With a CAP plan, producers can then apply for financial assistance to implement the needed conservation practices. 

What Authority Does NRCS Have For CAPs?

The Food Conservation and Energy Act of 2008 (Farm Bill) provides authority to use financial assistance through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) for payment for practices involving the development of plans appropriate for the eligible land of a program participant. The Act specifically authorizes EQIP to be used for comprehensive nutrient management plans and other plans that further the purposes of the program. The conservation practice associated with plan development under this authority is known as a “conservation activity plan” or CAP. 

The Farm Bill statute allows EQIP payment based upon the estimated incurred cost of practice implementation, which for a CAP will be the labor costs typically associated with development of a plan meeting agency standards and requirements (The payment is increased for qualifying historically underserved producers). The agency approves the conservation activity plans and payment rates to be offered through EQIP program contract every fiscal year and each State may support only specific CAPs.

Eligible producers may apply at their local NRCS office. EQIP payments are made directly to program participants for development of a CAP. These CAP plans may only be developed  by a certified Technical Service Provider (TSP). Although NRCS personnel are prohibited from developng CAPs, they can assist with the development of conservation plans to address all identified resource concerns.

CAP Requirements 

Technical requirements and planning criteria for each CAP are listed in each State Field Office Technical Guide (FOTG) and on this page. This information includes the details of what must be included in each kind of CAP that is approved for support through EQIP. Detailed technical information should be located in “Section III” of each State FOTG and is also available for download in the NRCS Technical Guidance Bulletin below.

How Do I Find A Technical Service Provider?

Information about CAP services from Technical Service Providers, including how to find a certified TSP in your State, the requirements to become a certified Technical Service Provider, can be found on the NRCS national TSP website.

2014 CAP Payment Rates