The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) provides conservation planning and technical assistance to clients (individuals, groups, and units of government). These clients, with assistance from NRCS and conservation district conservationists, develop and implement conservation plans to protect, conserve, and enhance natural resources (soil, water, air, plants, and animals) within their related social and economic interests. Developing a conservation plan is a required step before enrolling in NRCS conservation programs such as the Environmental Quality Incentives Program and the Conservation Stewardship Program.
NRCS provides assistance in developing conservation plans at no cost to landowners. The purpose of a conservation plan is to identify resource concerns on the farming operation such as excessive soil erosion, and risks to ground water from nutrient runoff, animal waste or farm chemicals and fuel. Once resource concerns are identified, the landowner and conservationist will determine what conservation activities can be employed to address these concerns. The landowner may apply for conservation financial assistance from NRCS to help with the cost of implementing the conservation activities. The landowner is not obligated to enroll in NRCS programs after completing a conservation plan. The landowner is also not guaranteed financial assistance in implementing conservation activities included in the conservation plan. However, only conservation practices included in the plan are eligible for NRCS financial assistance.