Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Press Release

USDA Conservation Program Signup Extended for Rhode Island Oyster Farmers

Sign up extended to February 23 for fiscal year 2024 Oyster Restoration Initiative funding
Publish Date
Rhode Island oysterman checks basket of spat on shell that is half underwater in Winnapaug Pond, Westerly, RI..

NRCS is extending our FY2024 signup #1 to February 23 for Rhode Island oyster farmers under the Oyster Reef Restoration Initiative. Anyone who applied by the initial Dec. 15 cutoff date or who applies by the extended deadline of Feb. 23 will be considered for this first signup.

The RI Oyster Reef Restoration Initiative is a partnership between NRCS and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management and Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) to reverse the effects of overfishing and habitat change to restore oyster reefs in protected water bodies across the Ocean State.

Program Options

NRCS provides financial assistance through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) for oyster growers to produce spat-on-shell (oyster larvae attached to empty shells) that is deployed over man-made reefs built from clean shell, called cultch. The Rhode Island EQIP Oyster Restoration Initiative has several phases, including setting oyster larvae at the hatchery, spat-on-shell grow-out on a participants’ lease, oyster deployment at the restoration site, and several years of monitoring the constructed oyster reefs. The following practices are available for oyster reef restoration:

  • Practice 472 – Access Control
  • Practice 643 – Restoration of Rare or Declining Natural Communities

NRCS is also offering a new practice for shellfish growers this year, called Bivalve Aquaculture Gear and Biofouling Control; shellfish farmers can apply for this practice by March 15 under our second General EQIP signup. This practice is used to cycle new aquaculture gear with existing production gear in waters where gear biofouling occurs. The farmed shellfish are transferred from the biofouled gear to the clean gear and returned to the water. The biofouled gear is then removed from the aquaculture site and taken on land to be cleaned using environmentally sound methods including air drying, brine dip, vinegar dip, freshwater dip, sweeping, power washing, or some combination of these.

Applying for Assistance

Funding is provided through a competitive process. NRCS accepts applications for its conservation programs year-round but 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. Interested participants and entities should apply by the ranking cutoff dates listed above to be considered for funding in the current cycle. Applications received after this ranking date will be automatically deferred to the next funding period.

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, air, plants, animals and other natural resources. 

Call NRCS Rhode Island today to see how we can help you help your land!

# # #

USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.

Additional Information

Find Your Local Service Center

USDA Service Centers are locations where you can connect with Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service, or Rural Development employees for your business needs. Enter your state and county below to find your local service center and agency offices. If this locator does not work in your browser, please visit