Conservation Funding Application Date Set
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is making more than $3 billion in funding available for agricultural producers and forest landowners nationwide to participate in voluntary conservation programs and adopt climate-smart practices in fiscal year 2024. As first announced in August, Montana private land managers interested in participating in Natural Resources Conservation Service programs must apply by Oct. 27 to be considered for the current funding cycle.
“We know that funding provided through the Inflation Reduction Act for 2024 combined with our traditional Farm Bill funding will be the largest climate and conservation investment in history,” said Tom Watson, NRCS State Conservationist for Montana. “This investment provides the resources to help meet producer demand for our oversubscribed programs while maximizing applied conservation practices that help producers address natural resource challenges.”
Inflation Reduction Act funding is implemented through existing NRCS programs including the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, Conservation Stewardship Program, Regional Conservation Partnership Program and the Agricultural Conservation Easements Program. NRCS saw record producer interest in these resources in fiscal year 2023. The agency is accepting applications from producers interested in this conservation assistance for fiscal year 2024. See the NRCS Montana webpage at nrcs.usda.gov/ montana for more information about these programs and initiatives that meet locally- developed conservation priorities.
The Inflation Reduction Act and Farm Bill funds provide direct climate mitigation benefits, advance a host of other environmental co-benefits, and expand access to financial and technical assistance for producers to advance conservation on their farm, ranch or forest land. This includes popular, common-sense practices like crop rotation, conservation tillage, wetland restoration, prescribed grazing, forest management to mitigate wildfire risk, and more. Ultimately, this will lead to economic opportunity for operations small to large, improved reach to communities that have been marginalized by underinvestment, more productive soil, cleaner water and air, healthier wildlife habitat and natural resource conservation for future generations.
Over fiscal year 2023, NRCS in Montana worked with private landowners to obligate a record conservation investment, which the agency is set to exceed in 2024. The total amount of funding obligated to contracts and easements with producers and partners was: EQIP: more than $41 million of which $2.8 million was IRA funding CSP: more than $25.7 million of which $4.8 million was IRA funding RCPP: more than $2.8 million of which there was no IRA funding ACEP: more than $29 million of which $6.5 million was IRA funding The Inflation Reduction Act provides funds to EQIP, CSP, ACEP and RCPP. For fiscal year 2024, which began Oct. 1, the Inflation Reduction Act provides nationwide an additional $1.65 billion for EQIP, $472 million for CSP, and $189 million for ACEP, and $754 million for RCPP.
The current anticipated portion of this Inflation Reduction Act funding for Montana is $27.9 million for EQIP and $13.5 million for CSP. This is in addition to the current anticipated allocation of Farm Bill funding for Montana of $28.6 million for EQIP, $20.7 million for CSP, and $13 million for ACEP.
NRCS accepts producer applications for its conservation programs year-round, but Montana producers interested in this cycle of conservation funding must apply by October 27, 2023. This application date applies to Montana’s EQIP, CSP, RCPP projects, and ACEP-WRE opportunities.
Similarly, NRCS accepts applications year-round for ACEP Agricultural Land Easements and Wetland Reserve Easements. Producers interested in the current national, IRA-funded cycle must apply by Nov. 13. NRCS will also consider previously unfunded applications in this round.
Interested producers should contact the NRCS at their local USDA Service Center. To learn more, visit nrcs.usda.gov/montana.