NRCS Obligates $70 Million in Conservation Funding to Iowa Farmers
Conservation practice funding through USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) totaled more than $70 million to Iowa agricultural producers and other private landowners in fiscal year 2022.
The newly contracted conservation practices will help treat natural resource concerns on more than 347,000 agricultural land acres.
NRCS staff also wrote 12,041 conservation plans during fiscal year 2022, which cover about 895,000 acres. Conservation plans help producers target and address natural resource concerns such as soil erosion, water quality, and wildlife habitat, in addition to addressing climate change and improving soil health.
NRCS provides conservation funding through four primary programs that are authorized through the Farm Bill: Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP), and Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP).
Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)
NRCS contracted about 45 percent of new federal conservation funding in Iowa through EQIP – a voluntary program that promotes agricultural production and environmental quality, where farmers can choose from a conservation practice list developed at the county level to treat local resource issues.
Through EQIP, NRCS obligated $31.9 million covering 101,403 acres through 838 contracts.
Top Practices Adopted Through EQIP
Three of the most adopted conservation practices by Iowans last year through EQIP include:
- Cover Crops (1,037 contracts/203,900 acres/$9.9 million)
- Brush Management (308 contracts/3,553 acres/$956,240)
- Prescribed Grazing (264 contracts/15,247 acres/$532,761)
Top Iowa Counties for EQIP
State leaders in EQIP contracts, funding, and acres treated:
- Howard County led the state with 42 contracts, obligating nearly $2 million to local farmers, helping to treat resource concerns on about 10,000 acres.
- Johnson County was also busy, obligating more than $1.3 million through 29 new EQIP contracts to help protect natural resources on 14,065 acres.
Other statewide EQIP highlights:
- In its inaugural year, 28 Iowa farmers signed up for EQIP Conservation Incentive Contracts (EQIP-CIC), providing $1.9 million covering nearly 6,800 acres. Producers use EQIP-CIC as a “steppingstone” on specific land units to achieve sustainable stewardship on an entire operation.
- NRCS obligated more than $4.2 million through the Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative (MRBI) for practices in targeted watersheds that will help control, trap, and reduce nutrient runoff on 11,160 acres.
- NRCS obligated $8.2 million to “Historically Underserved” producers in fiscal year 2022. This includes writing 169 contracts covering nearly 16,000 acres for Limited Resource, Beginning, Socially Disadvantaged, and Veteran farmers.
Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP)
CSP helps farmers build on existing conservation efforts by customizing a plan to meet conservation goals and needs. Iowa NRCS obligated about $16.5 million through new and renewed CSP contracts during the past year. In fiscal year 2022, 385 Iowa landowners signed five-year CSP contracts to treat natural resource concerns on 225,842 acres.
Statewide leaders in CSP:
- Chickasaw County led the state with 28 CSP contracts, totaling 15,603 acres, with an obligation of $945,000.
- Clayton County was next with 22 contracts, covering 8,918 acres and an obligation of $682,000.
- Scott County led the state by obligating more than $1 million through 14 CSP contracts.
Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP)
Iowa NRCS provided more than $9.5 million to Iowa farmers in 2022 through RCPP projects that will help treat natural resource concerns on nearly 17,000 acres. NRCS assisted producers through seven RCPP partnership agreements and 139 contracts.
RCPP promotes coordination between NRCS and its partners through agreements and program contracts. The seven RCPP projects in Iowa focus on improving water quality and soil health and creating sustainable grain supply chains.
Through ACEP, NRCS helps landowners, land trusts, and other entities protect, restore, and enhance wetlands, grasslands, and working farms through conservation easements. Overall, there are 1,710 conservation easements in Iowa covering about 199,167 acres.
During fiscal year 2022, Iowa NRCS obligated more than $12.1 million by helping landowners to place agricultural land into 19 conservation easements through three conservation programs:
- Emergency Watershed Protection Program-Floodplain Easements (EWP-FPE): Contracted to develop nine new floodplain easements, including six in Muscatine County, where cropland flooded in the past year or twice in the past 10 years.
- ACEP-Wetland Reserve Easements (WRE): Iowa NRCS will restore seven new wetland easements in five counties covering about 464 acres that have been degraded.
- ACEP-Agricultural Land Easements (ALE): Three Iowa producers enrolled their farms into an easement to protect the agricultural use and conservation values of their working farms.
For more detailed Iowa NRCS program results and information, go to www.nrcs.usda.gov/sites/default/files/2022-11/2022At-A-Glance.pdf.
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*Individual county conservation program results are available upon request.