The Equity in Conservation outreach cooperative agreements fund projects that expand the delivery of conservation assistance to producers who are new to farming, are low-income, identify as one or more marginalized race or ethnicity, and/or are military veterans. The program encourages new partnerships and the development of state and community leadership for underserved producers, with projects focusing on key conservation priorities including:
- Improving soil health and water quality,
- Providing habitat for at-risk wildlife,
- Improving natural resources and productivity on agricultural lands,
- Increasing access to conservation staff and resource in urban areas, and/or
- Building and strengthening local and regional food systems and markets
In 2023, NRCS invested $70 million in partnerships that will improve outreach to underserved producers and communities to expand access to conservation assistance, including programs funded by the Inflation Reduction Act, as well as career opportunities. NRCS selected 139 projects with entities for a one- to three-year engagement that encourage participation in NRCS programs, especially in underserved communities and among urban and small-scale producers. Projects are extending outreach to producers who are beginning, limited resource, socially disadvantaged, and veterans, and are highlighting opportunities for students to pursue careers in agriculture, natural resources and related sciences.