USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Chief, Terry J. Cosby, wants farmers and ranchers to know that the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 represents the single largest investment in climate and clean energy solutions in American history. It provides $19.5 billion from fiscal years 2023 to 2027 for climate smart agriculture through several of the conservation programs that NRCS implements. Last February, they announced $850 million of those funds would be available in fiscal year 2023 for its oversubscribed conservation programs – the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP), and Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP).
And NRCS is well on its way to implementing IRA in fiscal year 2023, and are planning for 2024 and beyond. In past years, producer demand for conservation assistance through these programs has outpaced available funding. They are excited that many producers can now benefit from this additional funding, and are preparing for the additional help needed to implement these climate change mitigation practices.
Since announcing the availability of FY 2023 IRA funds in February, NRCS has had over 10,000 applications for IRA in EQIP and CSP.
NRCS is also getting funding out to partners through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP), a partner-driven program that leverages partner resources to advance innovative projects that address issues such as climate change. Applications are being accepted through August 18, 2023, for RCPP Classic and RCPP Alternative Funding Arrangements (AFA). Projects selected under this funding opportunity may be awarded through either Farm Bill 2018 or IRA funding, but applications for RCPP climate-related projects will receive priority consideration for IRA funding.
Producers are reminded that NRCS accepts conservation programs applications year-round. And no matter when you apply, applications will automatically carry over for consideration in future funding cycles. So producers are encouraged to apply now to take advantage of this opportunity for additional funding over the next few years. To receive consideration for the current funding cycle in FY23, producers should apply by their state’s program ranking dates.