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News Release

PA Farmers Encouraged to Apply for Conservation Assistance

Molly Rose

Pennsylvania agricultural producers and landowners are encouraged to apply for technical and financial assistance to improve and enhance natural resources on their farm and forest land. Funding is available through the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), Agricultural Management Assistance (AMA) Program, and Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP-EQIP), administered by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). The first application cutoff date for fiscal year 2020 is January 31, 2020.

Assistance is available to help farmers and landowners plan and implement conservation practices to improve water quality, build healthier soil, improve grazing and forest lands, conserve energy, enhance organic operations, establish or improve wildlife habitat and achieve other environmental benefits on cropland and pasture, forestland, and associated agricultural land including farmsteads. Popular practices include those that support manure handling and storage systems, such as waste storage structures; soil health improvement, such as cover crops and no till; pasture improvement, such as prescribed grazing and watering systems; forest improvement, such as forest stand improvement; and habitat improvement, such as early successional habitat management. Assistance for irrigation is available through the AMA program in Cumberland and Franklin counties and also in Bucks, Montgomery, Lehigh, and Northampton counties.

Additionally, NRCS offers special initiatives through EQIP, including:

  • On-Farm Energy Initiative: helps producers conserve energy on their operations.
  • Seasonal High Tunnel Initiative: helps producers install high tunnels designed to extend the growing season into the cold months, increase productivity, keep plants at a steady temperature, and conserve water and energy.
  • Organic Initiative: helps producers install conservation practices on certified organic operations or those working toward organic certification.

NRCS is also accepting EQIP applications for two RCPP Projects in Franklin, Adams, York, Cumberland, Perry, and Dauphin Counties. Chester County Conservation District Partnership for Chesapeake Bay Water Quality in Chester County and Implementing Conservation Practices and Certified Nutrient Management Plans (CNMPs) on Pennsylvania Preserved Farms.

NRCS conservationists will work with producers to develop a conservation plan on their land to identify concerns and opportunities, help determine objectives, and recommend solutions. “Our high-quality, comprehensive conservation plans can provide farmers with step-by-step recommendations they can use to improve their water quality, soil health and more -- all while reducing input costs,” said Denise Coleman, Pennsylvania NRCS State Conservationist.

NRCS accepts applications year-round but makes funding selections at application cut-off deadlines. Pennsylvania producers with applications in by January 31st will have a higher chance of application approval in 2020, as funding is limited. Applications received after that date will be accepted and considered for funding in a second ranking review cycle, if funds remain.

Interested producers should visit their local NRCS service center (found at for sign-up information.

To participate in USDA conservation programs, applicants should be farmers or farm or forest landowners and must meet eligibility criteria. To take advantage of NRCS technical assistance and expertise or federally funded conservation on your farm or land, please contact your local USDA NRCS Field Office (found at, or visit our website at for applications and program information.