USDA announces conservation funding opportunities for Rhode Island farmers and forestland owners
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is announcing fiscal year 2023 assistance opportunities for agricultural producers and private landowners for federal conservation programs.
WARWICK, RI (September 22, 2022) – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is announcing fiscal year 2023 assistance opportunities for agricultural producers and private landowners for federal conservation programs. While NRCS accepts applications for these programs year-round, producers and landowners should apply by the following state-specific ranking dates to be considered for this year’s funding.
Program ranking dates
- Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) – December 16, 2022
- Agricultural Management Assistance (AMA) – December 16, 2022
- Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) – December 16, 2022
- Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) – December 16, 2022
- Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) Conservation Incentive Contracts (CIC) – December 16, 2022
- Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) Oyster Reef Restoration – December 16, 2022
- Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) Renewals FY 2024 – March 17, 2023
Through conservation programs, NRCS provides technical and financial assistance to help producers and landowners make conservation improvements on their land that benefit natural resources, build resiliency, and contribute to the nation’s broader effort to combat the impacts of climate change.
“NRCS conservation programs are good for Rhode Island’s natural resources and for your operation’s bottom line,” said Phou Vongkhamdy, NRCS State Conservationist in Rhode Island. “Whether this is your first time working with NRCS or you want to take conservation to the next level on your land, we encourage you to contact your local NRCS field office to learn more.”
Applying for assistance
Funding is provided through a competitive process. NRCS accepts applications for its conservation programs year-round. NRCS sets state-specific ranking dates to evaluate applications for funding. These dates account for producer needs, staff workload and ensure potential participants have ample opportunity to apply. Producers should apply by their state’s ranking dates to be considered for funding in the current cycle. Applications received after ranking dates will be automatically deferred to the next funding period.
The Agricultural Management Assistance (AMA) helps agricultural producers use conservation to manage risk and solve natural resource issues through natural resources conservation. NRCS administers the AMA conservation provisions while the Agricultural Marketing Service and the Risk Management Agency implement other provisions under AMA.
The Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) helps agricultural producers maintain and improve their existing conservation systems and adopt additional conservation activities to address priority resources concerns. Participants earn CSP payments for conservation performance—the higher the performance, the higher the payment.
The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers to address natural resource concerns and deliver environmental benefits such as improved water and air quality, conserved ground and surface water, increased soil health and reduced soil erosion and sedimentation, improved or created wildlife habitat, and mitigation against increasing weather volatility.
The Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) provides financial and technical assistance to help conserve agricultural lands and wetlands and their related benefits. There are two distinct paths for land protection under ACEP. There are:
- Agricultural Land Easements (ALE) to help private and tribal landowners, land trusts, and other entities such as state and local governments protect croplands and grasslands on working farms and ranches by limiting non-agricultural uses of the land through conservation easements
- Wetlands Reserve Easements (WRE) to help private and tribal landowners protect, restore, and enhance wetlands which have been previously degraded due to agricultural uses.
Historically underserved producer benefits
Special provisions are also available for historically underserved producers. For EQIP, historically underserved producers are eligible for advance payments to help offset costs related to purchasing materials or contracting services up front. In addition, historically underserved producers can receive higher EQIP payment rates (up to 90 percent of average cost). NRCS sets aside EQIP and CSP for historically underserved producers.
Conservation practices and climate
NRCS conservation programs play a critical role in USDA’s commitment to partnering with farmers, ranchers, forest landowners and local communities to deliver climate solutions that strengthen agricultural operations and rural America. States may prioritize a variety of voluntary conservation practices through these NRCS programs, including those that support climate-smart agriculture and forestry (CSAF).
NRCS is a federal agency that works hand-in-hand with conservation districts and the people of Rhode Island to improve and protect soil, water and other natural resources.
For more information and to apply for NRCS programs, contact your local conservation district or NRCS at:
Eastern RI Conservation District
Serving Newport and Bristol counties
Conservation District Office: 401-934-0842
Ghyllian Alger, NRCS District Conservationist
Northern RI Conservation District
Serving Providence County
Conservation District Office: 401-934-0840
Cassius Spears, NRCS District Conservationist
Southern RI Conservation District
Serving Kent and Washington counties
Conservation District Office: 401-661-5761
Jameson Long, NRCS District Conservationist
NRCS is a federal agency that works hand-in-hand with conservation districts and the people of Rhode Island to improve and protect soil, water and other natural resources. For more information, visit www.ri.nrcs.usda.gov.