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NRCS Montana Sets Application Date of March 17 for Climate-Smart Agriculture Funding

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NRCS employee and landowner look at riparian area and forested hills on a large ranch.

NRCS Montana is accepting applications for EQIP, CSP, and ACEP-ALE. NRCS accepts applications year-round, but applications for the current funding cycle must be submitted by March 17, 2023.

BOZEMAN, Mont., February 14, 2023 – The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Montana is accepting applications for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), and the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP). The funding for this current cycle comes through the Inflation Reduction Act and supports agricultural and forest landowners participating in voluntary conservation programs implementing climate-smart practices. To be considered for funding in the current cycle, producers and landowners should apply by March 17, 2023.

“NRCS in Montana focuses our conservation investments to make the most impact on our working lands. The Inflation Reduction Act funding is a once-in-a-generation investment in climate-smart practices that will accelerate that goal while providing opportunities for improved ecologic and economic sustainability for our ag producers and rural communities,” said Tom Watson, NRCS State Conservationist for Montana. “Farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners of all sizes, small to large, including historically underserved producers play a critical role in addressing climate change challenges.”

Inflation Reduction Act funding will provide direct climate mitigation benefits and will expand access to financial and technical assistance for producers to advance conservation on their farm, ranch or forest land through practices like cover cropping, conservation tillage, forest stand improvement, prescribed grazing, nutrient management, tree planting and more. Conservation funding is available for the following programs and initiatives:

Targeted Implementation Plans: NRCS in Montana targets its EQIP investments in very specific areas to achieve clearly defined natural resource goals as identified by local partners. The Montana Focused Conservation approach harnesses the power of multiple producers in one area undertaking similar conservation projects to achieve a regional or landscape-scale result. There are nearly 100 local projects currently available in fiscal year 2023. For more information about projects in your area, visit and click on What’s Available in My County.

EQIP offers financial and technical assistance to eligible participants to install or implement structural and management practices on eligible agricultural land. In Montana, historically underserved participants, including limited resource, and beginning farmers and ranchers, socially disadvantaged, and veteran farmers and ranchers will receive a higher payment rate for eligible conservation practices applied.

The CSP is for working lands. For farmers, ranchers, and forestland owners already taking steps to improve the condition of the land, CSP can help find new ways to meet resource and operation goals. All of the land in a producer’s agricultural operation must be enrolled to be eligible for CSP. This year, the Conservation Planning Workbook will be a required part of the CSP application package. Request a printed copy of the workbook from your local USDA service center.

ACEP Agricultural Land Easements (ACEP-ALE) provide financial assistance to eligible entities, including land trusts and state and local units of government, for purchasing easements that protect the agricultural use and conservation values of eligible land by limiting non-agricultural uses of the land. In the case of working farms, the program helps farmers and ranchers keep their land in agriculture. Landowners interested in an ACEP-ALE easement must enter into an agreement with an eligible entity to be considered for enrollment into the program. Find a list of entities eligible to hold ACEP-ALE easements in Montana and additional information at by clicking on the ACEP option under State Programs and Initiatives. 

NRCS accepts conservation program applications year-round; however, applications for the current funding consideration must be submitted by March 17, 2023. Applications made after the cutoff will be considered in the next funding cycle. Additional information is available on the Montana NRCS website at For contact information of your local USDA Service Center, visit

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