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NRCS's natural resources conservation programs help people reduce soil erosion, enhance water supplies, improve water quality, increase wildlife habitat, and reduce damages caused by floods and other natural disasters. Public benefits include enhanced natural resources that help sustain agricultural productivity and environmental quality while supporting continued economic development, recreation, and scenic beauty.

Financial Assistance Programs

  • Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) - helps owners and operators of agricultural lands maintain conservation stewardship and implement and maintain additional needed conservation practices. The conservation benefits gained will keep farms and ranches more sustainable and profitable and increase the benefits provided to all Americans through improved natural resources.

  • Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) - intended to stimulate the development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches and technologies while leveraging Federal investment in environmental enhancement and protection, in conjunction with agricultural production.

  • Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) - provides technical and financial help to farm and forest landowners for conservation practices that protect soil and water quality. Grassed waterways, stream fencing, critical area planting, terraces, manure management systems including storage structures and barnyard runoff protection, and many other conservation practices are eligible for EQIP.

  • Emergency Watershed Protection Program (EWP) - EWP is intended to take emergency measures to safeguard lives and property after a natural occurrence has caused a sudden impairment of the watershed. Through EWP, NRCS may purchase easements on any floodplain lands that have a history of repeated flooding.

  • Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) - uses partnerships to multiply conservation investments and reach goals on a regional or watersehd scale, promoting coordination between partners to deliver assistance to producers and landowners.

Easement Programs

  • Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) - ACEP provides financial and technical assistance to help conserve agricultural lands and restore wetlands. Under the Agricultural Land Easements component, NRCS helps state and local governments, Indian tribes, and non-governmental organizations protect working agricultural lands and limit non-agricultural uses of the land. Under the Wetlands Reserve Easements component, NRCS helps to restore, protect and enhance wetlands that have been altered for agriculture.

Landscape Initiatives

  • Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) - To improve the health of the Great Lakes, NRCS is providing financial and technical resources to 8 states to improve water quality in the region. Through this Initiative, NRCS will focus on helping farmers implement conservation practices that reduce erosion, improve water quality, and maintain agricultural productivity in selected watersheds.

  • Mississippi River Basin Initiative (MRBI) - To improve the health of the Mississippi River Basin, including water quality and wildlife habitat. NRCS and its partners will help producers in selected watersheds in the Mississippi River Basin voluntarily implement conservation practices that avoid, control, and trap nutrient runoff; improve wildlife habitat; and maintain agricultural productivity.

  • National Water Quality Initiative - committed to improving impaired waterways throughout the nation.  Three watersheds have been selected in Wisconsin. NRCS will help farmers and forest landowners in the selected watersheds to begin needed conservation practices to reduce sediment and nutrients entering the waterway.

Technical Assistance

  • Conservation Technical Assistance (CTA) - Through Conservation Technical Assistance, NRCS assists landowners and land users, communities, units of state and local government, Tribes, and other Federal agencies in planning and implementing conservation systems. 

  • Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) - CRP can reduce erosion, increase wildlife habitat, improve water quality, and increase forestland. Landowners sets aside cropland with annual rental payments based on amount bid. Tree planting, wildlife ponds, grass cover, and other environmental practices are eligible practices. This program is administered by FSA and NRCS provides technical assistance.

  • Conservation Compliance - In order to participate in USDA farm programs, Federal law requires that all persons that produce agriculture commodities must protect their highly erodible cropland from excessive erosion. In addition, anyone participating in USDA farm programs must certify that they have not produced crops on converted wetlands and did not convert a wetland.