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News Release

NRCS Conservation Programs Announced for 2018

Annapolis, Md., November 15, 2017 — The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) now has 2018 federal conservation program funds available for Maryland farmers and forestland owners.

Farmers and forestland owners may apply for funding under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), the Agricultural Management Assistance (AMA) program and the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) at any time throughout the year, but funding selections are made at specific times and the 2018 sign-up deadline is December 15, 2017.

The three programs were authorized under the 2014 Farm Bill. EQIP provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers and forestland owners to address natural resource concerns and deliver environmental benefits such as improved water quality, reduced soil erosion, and improvements in soil health, wildlife habitat, plant and animal communities and energy conservation.  AMA is designed help with irrigation systems and high tunnels. Maryland currently offers RCPP in selected areas across the state through eight projects that range in focus, from animal waste management practices, to streamside buffers, to wildlife habitat restoration.

A conservation plan should be completed before an application can be considered for funding, so farmers are encouraged to call or stop by their local NRCS field office as soon as possible.

“If you operate a farm or manage forest land and want to improve your land, we can help,” said Jackie Byam, Assistant State Conservationist for Programs in Maryland. “A planner will discuss with you your vision for your land, and will explain the conservation planning process and how to apply for financial assistance.”

Eligible producers who sign up for EQIP, AMA and RCPP may receive a payment based on the statewide average cost for installing planned conservation practices. Socially disadvantaged, limited resource and beginning farmers and ranchers are eligible for a higher payment rate.

Maryland is once again offing Local Funding Pools that allow each county to select their top resource concerns and target funding to conservation practices to address those concerns. Special pools are also available for On-Farm Energy, Organic and Seasonal High Tunnel conservation practices, as well as a number of landscape-based initiatives. All offer technical and financial assistance through EQIP.

Wildlife concerns are included in EQIP and a minimum of five percent of the available EQIP funding is used for wildlife purposes. Landowners interested in establishing wildlife practices or pollinator habitat can apply under the EQIP program.

If you are interested in Farm Bill programs, contact your local NRCS office to identify and plan the conservation measures you would like to implement on your land. NRCS staff will help you develop a plan, identify recommended practices, and pursue funding through one of the many Farm Bill program options available. More information on programs is available on the Maryland NRCS website at