Programs offered by agencies offer benefits to producers and the environment

If you’ve ever considered applying for an agriculture-related financial assistance program, chances are that you have run across some programs from the USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS).

The NRCS offers several farmer-friendly financial assistance and incentive programs that have benefits for the farmer, the community and the environment.

“The flagship financial assistance programs of the NRCS are the Environmental Quality Incentive Program and the Conservation Stewardship Program,” said Curt McDaniel, NRCS Assistant State Conservationist – Programs for the state of Missouri.

He added that these are two of the most heavily utilized programs in the NRCS. According to the NRCS website, the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) “provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers in order to address natural resource concerns and deliver environmental benefits such as improved water and air quality, conserved ground and surface water, reduced soil erosion and sedimentation or improved or created wildlife habitat.”

Some popular practices implemented by producers working with the NRCS through the EQIP program include cover crops, irrigation and prescribed grazing.

The Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) helps agricultural producers maintain and improve their existing conservation systems and adopt additional conservation activities to address priority resources concerns. Participants earn CSP payments for conservation performance – the higher the performance, the higher the payment.

There are three main benefits to participating in a financial assistance program such as EQIP or CSP, McDaniel explained.

One benefit is that the producer gets protection of the natural resources on their farm or ranch – which is quite a large benefit indeed, considering that the natural resources we have are the only ones we have.

The second benefit is that the producer will hopefully see an increase in production from properly implemented practices through NRCS financial assistance programs.

The third benefit from participating in these programs is a little broader.

“Society gets an environmental benefit,” McDaniel said. “And these programs are also beneficial to rural communities.”

When producers utilize the financial assistance they receive from the NRCS, they are purchasing supplies from their local communities and making every dollar count, while also making production practice choices that help safeguard not just their natural resources, but their neighbors as well.

The NRCS takes applications to their financial assistance programs year-round.

“There’s never a bad time,” McDaniel said. The best way to get the application process started for one of these programs is to visit your local USDA field office.

“We always encourage people to stop in and visit,” McDaniel said.


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