NRCS Alaska provides technical and financial assistance to farmers, ranchers, forest owners and Alaska Native Tribes/entities to conserve natural resources and improve food security, subsistence and climate-smart agriculture.
Land Ownership in Alaska
- Alaska is the largest state in the United States at 365 million acres. It’s larger than Texas, Montana and California combined.
- 86% public land (federal and state).
- 14% private land (mostly owned and managed by Alaska Natives, including native corporations)
- Less than 1% private land is owned by non-native people/entities
- 44 million acres (more than 70,000 square miles) of private land in Alaska
Agriculture in Alaska
Alaska agriculture is diverse and includes forestland, cropland, rangeland, pasture and lands managed for subsistence such as salmon, moose and caribou. Alaska farms include unique livestock such as reindeer/caribou, bison, yak and musk ox; along with a variety of vegetables, barley and hay. We also have a thriving peony industry. It’s an exciting time to be involved in Alaska agriculture as we work together to strengthen food security and support indigenous cultures.
Alaska Native Tribes
There are 229 Federally recognized tribes in Alaska, which is 40 percent of all recognized tribes in the U.S. The overwhelming majority of NRCS contracts in Alaska are with historically underserved producers, many of which are Alaska Natives. Because of its extensive work with tribes, Alaska is among the largest states in the nation for Farm Bill program participation with historically underserved producers.
Food Security and Subsistence
Food security affects all Alaskans due to our cold climate, short growing season, and access to viable farmland. Only 5% of food purchased in Alaska is grown in Alaska. The remainder is flown or barged into the state making our food system insecure. Subsistence is a critical way of life for many rural Alaskans and NRCS conservation assistance supports subsistence activities.
What we do
NRCS Alaska provides financial and technical assistance to a wide variety of customers and partners who produce food and fiber on private lands and manage lands for subsistence. In Alaska, lands managed for subsistence are considered agricultural lands and may be eligible for NRCS conservation assistance. The majority of our financial assistance goes directly to Alaska Native Tribes and tribal organizations which represent the majority of private landowners in the state. We also work with traditional agricultural producers large and small, both on the road system and off the road system. We also operate soil survey and snow survey programs that collect and report valuable natural resource data to the public.
Success in implementing voluntary USDA conservation programs in Alaska has been built on a foundation of locally led partnerships and supported by the efforts of many. In the center of this circle of collaboration is trust that has grown through the years as NRCS has worked with its partners to deliver significant resources to Alaska Native-owned and managed private lands.
We work with diverse partners across the state including Soil and Water Conservation Districts, Tribal Conservation Districts, federal and state agencies, Tribal organizations and non-profit groups to provide conservation assistance. Our goals are to improve the adoption of climate-smart agricultural practices in Alaska; to support historically-underserved producers and promote racial equality in all that we do; and to support food security through investing in urban and rural/village agriculture across the state.