Release: NRCS Announces Improvements to CSP and EQIP
Washington, DC, January 11, 2022 – Yesterday, the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) made a series of changes to its premier conservation programs to better support farmers’ ability to face climate change. First, NRCS improved the re-enrollment process within the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP). NRCS eliminated the requirement that farmers with expiring contracts who are not selected to renew those contracts must wait two full years to reapply to the program, a change for which the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) has long advocated.
“This change makes CSP more accessible to farmers who have demonstrated commitment to conservation and shown leadership in transforming their operations to be climate friendly. Farmers willing to re-enroll in five-year CSP contracts and continue building conservation into their operations model two crucial elements of climate friendly agriculture: layering of practices to maximize benefits and maintaining practices over the long term. Taken together, these elements build greater climate resilience into our agricultural system and help it stay there. NSAC applauds this crucial improvement to CSP,” said Eric Deeble, NSAC Policy Director.
The second announcement yesterday was that the Environmental Quality Incentives Program Conservation Incentive Contract (EQIP CIC) option will be available nationwide in 2022. Created in the 2018 Farm Bill and piloted in select states in 2021, EQIP CIC combines EQIP style practice payments with five-year contracts, annual management payments, the ability to enhance practices, and a focus on regional resource concerns included in CSP. This blending of program elements provides a stepping-stone for farmers who start working on conservation in their operation with EQIP and want to transition to a whole farm conservation approach with CSP. Again, as layering practices and maintaining them over time are two crucial elements of climate friendly agriculture, the EQIP CIC option is a promising tool for helping farmers build up conservation in their operations and move towards a whole-farm, CSP style conservation system.
Additionally, NRCS announced the creation of a new Cover Crop Initiative. Seeking to increase cover crop adoption in 11 states, this pilot program will spend $38 million supporting producers implementing the practice. Pilot states include Arkansas, California, Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Mississippi, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and South Dakota.
“Cover crops are a foundational practice for many operations starting to build climate resilience into their operations. NSAC is pleased to see additional investment in this key baseline practice and hopes this Initiative will pave the way to durable adoption as well as support farmers moving down a path towards whole-farm, climate friendly conservation,” said Deeble.
Applications to the new Cover Crop Initiative will be selected by February 11, 2022. To check if your state has posted an application deadline, as well as deadlines for other programs, visit this website. If you do not see a deadline for your state, or have questions about other NRCS programs available in your state, please find state office contact information here.
–National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition
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