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News Release

USDA announces 2022 application ranking dates for conservation programs in Massachusetts

Contact:
Diane Petit, Public Affairs Officer
413-253-4371


A planner and farmer discuss a conservation plan in a high tunnel.

January 21, 2022 is next ranking cut-off date

AMHERST, Mass., Sept. 20, 2021 – Landowners and managers of agricultural land and forestland in Massachusetts, interested in technical and financial assistance to address natural resource concerns, are invited to contact the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) about applying for several federal conservation programs. Applications are ranked in batching periods.

In Massachusetts, NRCS will be offering four batching periods for financial assistance through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and Agricultural Management Assistance (AMA) programs. Applications may be  submitted at any time during the year; however, the next batching date will be January 21, 2022. Pending available funding, additional batching period cut-off dates for EQIP and AMA will be March 18, May 20, and July 15 of 2022.

The Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) will have one batching period cut-off date: March 18, 2022

You may apply for NRCS conservation programs at any time; complete applications are ranked for funding in batches periodically throughout the year. All applications determined eligible and high priority by close of business on the ranking date will be considered in the current funding cycle. All NRCS programs are voluntary.

Ranking dates and the application process are subject to change. Contact your local field office for the latest information. For more information on available programs, the application process, and natural resource priorities, visit the Massachusetts NRCS website at www.ma.nrcs.usda.gov.

For more information, contact your local USDA-NRCS office:

  • Greenfield field office – 413-772-0384, ext 3, serving Franklin County
  • Hadley field office – 413-585-1000, ext 3, serving Hampden and Hampshire counties
  • Holden field office – 508-829-4477, ext 3, serving Worcester County
  • Pittsfield field office – 413-443-1776, ext 3, serving Berkshire County
  • Westford field office – 978-692-1904, ext 3, serving Essex, Middlesex and Suffolk counties
  • Wareham field office – 508-295-5151, ext 2, serving Bristol, Norfolk and Plymouth counties
  • West Yarmouth field office – 508-771-6476, serving Cape Cod and the Islands

Farmland and forestland operators and owners should contact NRCS to begin the conservation planning process. NRCS develops conservation plans which evaluate resource concerns, while considering the land management goals of the operation. “If you operate a farm or manage forest land and want to improve your land, we can help,” said Dan Wright, State Conservationist for NRCS in Massachusetts. “You can discuss your vision for your land with one of our conservation planners, who will explain the conservation planning process and how to apply for financial assistance.”

The AMA program provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers to voluntarily address issues such as water management, water quality, and erosion control by incorporating conservation into their farming operations.

Massachusetts producers may construct or improve water management structures or irrigation structures and implement high tunnels to benefit plant productivity. AMA is available in 16 states where Federal Crop Insurance Program participation is historically low: Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

CSP assists agricultural producers, including operators of non-industrial private forestland, who already provide a high level of management on their land, to take their conservation activities to the next level. Producers are provided payments based on the current stewardship activities and financial assistance for the completion of additional activities enhancing their environmental stewardship. CSP is for working lands including cropland, pastureland, nonindustrial private forest land and agricultural land under the jurisdiction of a tribe.

EQIP provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers and forest landowners to address natural resource concerns through an array of conservation practices. Assistance is available to support private landowners and managers in addressing farm, field, forest, wildlife, water, and/or plant management issues including:

  • Erosion control
  • Farm and forestry conservation plans
  • Fencing for grazing systems
  • Forest stand improvement
  • Grazing plans
  • Irrigation systems
  • Pasture and hayland planting
  • Pollinator habitat
  • Protection of heavy use areas for livestock
  • Restoration and management of declining habitat
  • Riparian buffers
  • Seasonal high tunnels
  • Soil health management plans
  • Waste storage facilities
  • Wildlife habitat management and development

Some of the EQIP funding will be provided to farmers and forest landowners via the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP), which encourages partner organizations to join in efforts with producers to increase the restoration and sustainable use of soil, water, wildlife and related natural resources on regional or watershed scales. Through the RCPP program, NRCS and its partners help producers install and maintain conservation activities in selected project areas.

Partners leverage RCPP funding in project areas and report on the benefits achieved.

NRCS is a federal agency that works hand-in-hand with conservation districts and the people of Massachusetts to improve and protect soil, water and other natural resources.