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Act Now

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service has accelerated conservation program funding decisions through its “Act Now” process, which enables states to pre-approve applications when they meet or exceed a state’s pre-determined minimum ranking score.

NRCS has developed a faster process to approve producer applications for its conservation programs. Using its “Act Now” authority, NRCS can now pre-approve applications when they meet or exceed a state’s pre-determined minimum ranking score. Applications are ranked according to local resource concerns, the amount of conservation benefits the work will provide, and the needs of applicants.

Applications for eligible practices that meet or exceed state-determined minimum ranking thresholds will be considered for priority funding when applying to the Agricultural Management Assistance (AMA), Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), and the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). No special application is required to be eligible for funding through the Act Now process. 

This means funding decisions can be made without having to wait for all applications to be reviewed and ranked. This can potentially allow farmers to start conservation projects earlier instead of waiting long periods to know if a project will be funded.

Why Act Now

Act Now was designed to help NRCS facilitate the implementation of high priority conservation efforts such as the Inflation Reduction Act. As part of President Biden's Investing in America agenda, more than $3 billion is being made available nationally in 2024 from the Inflation Reduction Act for climate-smart mitigation activities through several of the conservation programs that NRCS implements. The investment through the Inflation Reduction Act represents the single largest investment in climate and clean energy solutions in American history. An additional investment of over $2 billion is available through the Farm Bill.

Following this historic investment into conservation, Act Now was designed to accelerate the timeframe from program application to contract obligation and create a process where producers could receive a funding decision close to when they apply to help get conservation on the ground quickly and efficiently.

How Does Act Now Work

Act Now minimum ranking thresholds and eligible practices are determined at the state-level. The process enables states to pre-approve a ranked application in a ranking pool designated for Act Now when an application meets or exceeds a state’s pre-determined minimum threshold ranking score. For more information on eligible practices in your state and the minimum ranking threshold, visit your local USDA Service Center.

Producers do not apply separately to Act Now and will be considered for priority funding when applying to an eligible practice through AMA, EQIP, CSP, or RCPP. Applications are processed in the order they are received and applications that rank at or above the state-established threshold ranking score will be preapproved as long as funds are available. When the available funding limit through Act Now has been reached, remaining application may be considered in other relevant ranking pools or rolled over to the next funding cycle.

Once a producer’s application is pre-approved, they must still meet eligibility requirements including establishing a farm tract number with USDA’s Farm Service Agency if they have not previously utilized USDA programs. They also must certify compliance with the adjusted gross income limitation (AGI) provisions and compliance with highly erodible land and wetland conservation requirements. After establishing eligibility, producers must complete the planning process and receive notice of approval from NRCS  prior to beginning work. Projects started before final contract approval are ineligible for cost-share assistance unless the producer has been granted an early start waiver. 

NRCS accepts producer applications for its conservation programs year-round but considers and funds application during set funding cycles. Producers interested in AMA, EQIP, CSP, or RCPP should apply by their state’s specific program ranking dates for consideration during the current funding cycle.

Which Practices Are Eligible for Act Now

Eligible practices can vary by state. Check with your local district conservations to learn more about the eligible funding pools in your state.

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