The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service in Florida (NRCS-FL) wants to remind agricultural producers that applications need to be in by November 17, 2023 for FY 2024 federal assistance opportunities through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP).
Through EQIP, CSP, and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), more than $67 million is available for conservation practices and initiatives, including:
- Nearly $35 million through the IRA to assist farmers and farmers in implementing climate smart, mitigating activities and clean energy solutions for their daily operations. The new funding authority Act Now will be incorporated as part of IRA funding.
- $2 million for High Tunnels Systems (HTS). The HTS are designed to help producers extend the growing season, increase productivity, keep plants at a steady temperature, and conserve water and energy.
- $5 million to support EQIP Emergency Recovery related to Hurricane Idalia.
EQIP provides financial assistance to agricultural producers to address natural resource concerns and deliver environmental benefits. These include improved water and air quality, improved irrigation efficiency, reduced soil erosion and sedimentation, forest restoration, and creating or enhancing wildlife habitat.
CSPallows producers to earn payments for actively managing, maintaining, and expanding conservation activities integrated within their agricultural operations. CSP enhancements, like cover crops, help producers improve soil health while protecting water quality. CSP enhancements such as Pasture Condition Score, help producers assess the health of their pastures while protecting resources.
Special provisions are also available for historically underserved producers. For EQIP, historically underserved producers are eligible for advance payments to help offset costs related to purchasing materials or contracting services up front. In addition, historically underserved producers can receive higher EQIP payment rates (up to 90 percent of average cost). NRCS sets aside EQIP and CSP funds for historically underserved producers.
To learn more, contact NRCS at your local USDA Service Center.