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How to Apply for USDA-NRCS Conservation Programs

Establish Eligibility for USDA Programs

If you have not worked with the USDA before you will need to make an appointment with the Farm Service Agency (FSA) at your local USDA Service Center to establish eligibility and get Farm and Tract numbers assigned to your land. Almost every county has a USDA Service Center. Visit our Service Center Locator to find the address, phone number, and driving directions for the center nearest you.

What to Bring with You

Bring the following documentation:

  • Proof of your control of the land you wish to enroll by providing a lease or a copy of the deed to the property.
  • Provide your Social Security or Employer Identification Number, and contact information.
  • For entities, partnerships, or joint operations you will need to provide information documenting those individuals with authority to represent the business.

What You Complete at the Farm Service Agency

  1. Form AD-1026 Highly Erodible Land Conservation and Wetland Conservation Determination.
  2. Form CCC-931 Adjusted Gross Income (AGI). To be eligible for NRCS programs the participant's AGI must be less than $1 million, or at least 66.66% of the AGI must be activities related to farming.
  3. Form CCC-901 Members' information for entities and joint operations.

Note: All members of an entity must be listed on the CCC-901 and complete CCC-931 reflecting their personal AGI. The forms are available online at our Forms Management Web site.

It takes time for the paperwork to be processed and additional information may be needed. Please start this process early in order to ensure you are eligible prior to any program sign-up cut-off dates. If you apply for a USDA program and the system does not show you or your entity as eligible, your application will not be processed or funded.

Many of the program application forms require the applicant to provide sensitive financial or other confidential information. Disclosure of this data is voluntary, but failure to provide the required information may result in the deferral of an application or denial of a payment. By law, “confidential, private and sensitive information” is protected by USDA. Certain forms must be resubmitted each year an application is submitted.

Applying for Conservation Programs

When applying for NRCS conservation programs, the recommended first step is getting a conservation plan for your land. A NRCS representative will schedule an appointment to complete an on-site assessment of your farm and develop a conservation plan. If you already have a conservation plan on file, the NRCS representative will go over the plan and update it, if necessary.

Next, you will need to decide which conservation practices you want to include in the program application and complete the application process.

  1. Complete a NRCS-CPA-1200 program application. The form must be signed and dated by the applicant. You will need to read the NRCS-CPA-1202-CPC appendix which explains the rules of the programs.
  2. Other information or documents as requested by the NRCS representative to complete the application.

When applying for EQIP / CBWI or WHIP, remember that your name, address, and social security number or Employer Identification Number (EIN) must match the information you have on file with the IRS and FSA, and the information provided on the Direct Deposit Form. If you cannot recall your EIN and address used, call the IRS directly at 1-800-829-4933. You should "Request confirmation of Employer Identification Number (EIN), IRS Letter 147C, EIN Previously Assigned. The IRS can fax the letter to you, but you must remain on the line and have a separate open fax line to receive the fax. The letter can be mailed. The requester will receive the IRS Letter 147C, in 7 to 10 business days.

Program Applications

Your application is given a ranking score based on National, State and local ranking factors. After the funding cut-off date, the highest ranked applications will be funded until the money is exhausted. If your application is not funded, you may reapply each year. You can find more information about conservation programs on the Virginia  NRCS Web site.

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