Finding programs that will work for you and your operation
As a farmer or rancher, you know how important it is to use all resources efficiently, whether it is time, feed, fertilizer or dollars.
When you utilize some of the farmer-friendly programs available through the Natural Resources Conservation Society (NRCS), you are tapping into an amazing resource that can help you maximize your operation to the fullest.
The NRCS offers a wide variety of programs and funding to qualified landowners and farmers to help the producer while also bettering the environment.
“Our conservation working lands programs allow us to provide the necessary technical and supporting financial assistance to agricultural producers to help protect and improve our natural resources for sustainability of healthy, productive environments,” NRCS State Public Affairs Specialist Reginald Jackson said.
If you think participating in an NRCS program would benefit your farm, here is how you can find out what is available to you and get started with planning, applying and implementing.
Visit the Website
Curt McDaniel, NRCS Assistant State Conservationist-Programs for the state of Missouri, suggests that anyone interested in participating in NRCS program start out by visiting the website, www.nrcs.usda.gov. Interested parties will find all kinds of different program and resource information here. Curt noted that you can easily access your state specific NRCS site by typing your state’s abbreviation into a search engine, followed by NRCS.
“It will be the first result, every time,” he said. Another website tool is the Field Office Locator – this search feature will help you locate your local USDA Field Office by county. If you are already working with the NRCS on a program for your farm, you can utilize an online portal called the Conservation Client Gateway.
This tool allows you to request technical assistance, apply for financial assistance, view, sign and submit applications and other documents, and track your payments. After a visit to a local field office to set up your account, you can interact with the NRCS online in a convenient and flexible manner. While you are perusing the NRCS website, it is important to keep it mind that there is a lot of information in one place, so don’t get discouraged if you don’t immediately find what you need. Make use of the search feature, and know that you can always get in touch with your field office if you need additional assistance.
When it comes to researching innovative ways to make environmentally sound improvements to your farm, Curt said “another great spot is social media.” He recommends following not just your state specific NRCS on social media, but other states and the general NRCS accounts as well. That way, people can see what programs and ideas others are implementing they might be able to adapt to their own state.
Visit Your Field Office
The best way to get on track to participating in an NRCS program is to visit your local USDA field office.
“We always encourage people to stop in and visit,” said McDaniel. “We want to give people the best experience we can, and it starts with a conversation.”
He went on to explain that “programs are a by-product of what we try to do with people.”
When visiting a local field office, NRCS staff will first talk with you and help you determine your goals and problems that you need solved on your farm. After this has been determined, the NRCS will help you create a plan and find a program that meets your needs.
Once you’ve settled on a program, you can begin the application process. The first step, is going to your local field office and providing documentation that you either own or lease the land that the improvements will be made upon so that you can update your farm records. The NRCS will then determine your eligibility, after which you can sign up for the program and put your name in the hat, so to speak. There will be NRCS staff members to work with you from start to finish on the planning, the application process and the program implementation. Curt explained that the NRCS sometimes partners with other agencies to make sure all clients needs are met.
“We work hand in hand with our partners to make sure we provide the best customer service,” McDaniel said.