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How It Works

How It Works

South Dakota NRCS supports the locally led conservation effort in the delivery of conservation programs.  The State Technical Committee (STC), convened by the State Conservationist, consists of conservation stakeholders including individuals representing  commodity groups; private entities; Tribal representatives; private individuals; federal, state, and local governments. 

Conservation programs may provide a conservation practice payment for implementing certain conservation practices important to improving and maintaining the health of South Dakota's natural resources.  Payments for management practices may be provided for up to three years to encourage producers to carry out these practices that they may not otherwise do without the incentive.  Historically Underserved individuals and groups are eligible for increased payment rates.

The 2008 Farm Bill recognizes landowners/operators who are socially disadvantage, have limited resources, and are beginning farmers/ranchers as eligible for special incentives for program participation.  These incentives include increased payment rates, and evaluation under special funding pools for which a separate payment schedule has been developed.  Historically Underserved individuals and groups.

Limited Resource Farmer or Rancher

  • Is an applicant with direct or indirect gross farm sales not more than the current indexed value in each of the previous two years; and
  • Who has a total household income at or below the national poverty level for a family of four, or less than 50 percent of the county median household income in each of the previous two years.
            - Legal entity or joint operation can be a Limited Resource Farmer only if all individual members independently qualify.
            - Self-determination tool can be found at

Beginning Farmer or Rancher

  • Is an applicant who has not operated a farm or ranch, or who has operated a farm or ranch for not more than 10 consecutive years.  This requirement applies to all members of the legal entity. 
  • Will materially and substantially participate in the operation of the farm or ranch.

Socially Disadvantaged Farmer or Rancher

  • Is a group whose members have been subject to racial or ethnic prejudice because of their identity as members of a group without regard to their individual qualities.  These groups consist of the following:
        - American Indians or Alaskan Natives
        - Asians
        - Blacks or African Americans
        - Native Hawaiians or other Pacific Islanders
        - Hispanics

A conservation plan will be developed at a minimum for the acres affected by the program practices, if the participant doesn't already have one.  Conservation practices must meet NRCS technical standards.  Farmers may elect to use an approved third-party provider for technical assistance, if available.

Program Contact

Jennifer Wurtz, Resource Conservationist, 605-352-1225
Jeff VanderWilt, Assistant State Conservationist for Programs, 605-352-1226