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Agricultural producers, farmers, and forest landowners need to apply by May 17, 2024 for the second round of funding in fiscal year 2024.

Madison, Wis., April 16, 2024 – Farmers and forest landowners will want to plan ahead and sign up early for United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) conservation funding. Josh Odekirk, NRCS Acting State Conservationist in Wisconsin, announced that agricultural producers, farmers, and forest landowners interested in Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) or Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) producer contracts need to apply by May 17, 2024, for the second round of funding in fiscal year 2024.

“The 2018 Farm Bill and the Inflation Reduction Act allow NRCS to support conservation that ensures cost-effective financial assistance for improved soil health, water and air quality and other natural resources benefits,” said Odekirk. “By submitting EQIP and RCPP applications now, NRCS staff will have sufficient time to assist in planning conservation practices that align with the applicant’s conservation goals for their operation.”

EQIP and RCPP are the primary programs available to Wisconsin producers, offering cost share for more than 120 basic conservation practices. Last year, Wisconsin NRCS invested $39.2 million in conservation practices through EQIP and RCPP practices. All eligible applications received by May 17th will be prioritized, evaluated, and ranked for funding in 2024. Although NRCS accepts applications year-round at all USDA Service Centers in Wisconsin, applications received after May 17, 2024 will automatically be deferred to the next funding cycle. 

Farmers and landowners interested in receiving financial assistance through these programs should contact their local USDA Service Center to get started on producer eligibility and planning and are encouraged to apply now. Odekirk reminds farmers who are interested in practices that may require permits, such as manure storage or streambank restoration, to begin planning and seeking permits as soon as possible. Applicants with shovel-ready projects (designs completed and permit applications submitted) will receive a higher ranking in select fund pools.

USDA recognizes the need to be inclusive of all people and ensure equitable access to services. Increased financial assistance for conservation practices, dedicated conservation funding, and access to advance payments for conservation practice implementation are being offered to the following groups:

Socially Disadvantaged: Special funding opportunity for applicants who are members of a socially disadvantaged group as identified by NRCS; including American Indians or Alaskan Natives, Asians, Blacks or African Americans, Native Hawaiians or other Pacific Islanders, and Hispanics.

Wisconsin Tribal Conservation Advisory Council (WTCAC): Special funding opportunity for Wisconsin’s 11 federally recognized American Indian nations and tribal communities.

Sign-up opportunities are also open for the following initiatives, that offer technical and financial assistance through EQIP or RCPP:

Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI): Through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, NRCS offers financial assistance to agricultural producers for implementing practices that improve water quality in selected watersheds. Eligible watersheds include Door-Kewaunee Rivers, Lower Fox River, Manitowoc-Sheboygan, Milwaukee River, Oconto River, Peshtigo River, Duck-Pensaukee River, Upper Fox River, Wolf River, and Lake Winnebago watersheds. 

Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP): The Regional Conservation Partnership Program  promotes coordination between NRCS and its partners to deliver conservation assistance to producers and landowners through partnership or easement agreements and/or program contacts throughout Wisconsin. 

Projects participating in this second round of funding are as follows:

  • American Bird Conservancy (2727): Improving Oak Ecosystem Health in the Great Lakes Region
  • American Bird Conservancy (2245): Improving Forest Health for Wildlife Resources in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Minnesota
  • American Farmland Trust (2329): Wisconsin Farmland Protection Partnership Project
  • Dane County Land and Water Resource Department (2512): Improving Soil Health and Water Quality 
  • NEW Water (2769): Ashwaubenon Creek and Dutchman Creek (ACDC) Watersheds Water Quality and Habitat
  • Sand County Foundation (2320): Grasslands and Oak Savannas for Water and Wildlife 
  • Trout Unlimited, Inc (2881): Driftless Area Habitat for the Wild & Rare Phase 3

Farmers and landowners interested in applying for EQIP or RCPP funding should contact NRCS through the USDA Service Center in their county. For more information, visit our website.

On Nov. 16, 2023, President Biden signed into law H.R. 6363, the Further Continuing Appropriations and Other Extensions Act, 2024, which extended the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, more commonly known as the 2018 Farm Bill. This extension allows authorized programs to continue through Sept. 30, 2024.


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