What to know before applying for programs
There are a number of beneficial cost share programs available to farmers through the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resource Conservation Service and other entities.
Projects such as fencing, livestock watering systems, plants and seeds, marketing materials and energy improvements can be partially or fully financially covered through cost-share programs.
If a producer is interested in applying, it can be beneficial to do a bit of research and have some paperwork in order before heading into their local USDA/NRCS Service Center.
Visiting the NRCS website can help a producer decide what programs they are interested in applying for.
Conservation programs are available to help people reduce soil erosion, enhance water supplies, improve water quality, increase wildlife habitat, and reduce damages caused by floods and other natural disasters; other opportunities include environmental improvement and incentives, easement programs, and watershed programs.
Comparing available programs to a farm’s long-term plans and goals can help a producer select the most beneficial programs for their operation.
Producers can expedite their application process by creating an online account through the NRCS/USDA Conservation Client Gateway.
In order to create the account, an individual USDA Business Partner customer record with a primary email address is needed. Calling the local service center can confirm if a producer has this and if not, one can be set up.
Once acquiring a BP, producers can set up and authenticate their Conservation Client Portal account, which will be used to store information, sign and send documents, and communicate about cost share programs.
The next step is visiting with NRCS/USDA staff at a producer’s local field office; call before heading in to determine what the field office’s COVID-19 protocols are. Many offices are open by pre-scheduled appointments only. Prior to the appointment, producers will want to gather some paperwork that will be needed to finish their cots share program application, including:
An Official Tax ID
A producer will need to have a tax ID as part of their required paperwork – this can be in the form of either a Social Security Number or an employer ID.
A Property Deed or Lease Agreement
A property deed or lease agreement shows the entity offering the cost share program that the producer has control over the property that the program is being applied for.
A Farm Tract Number
A farm tract number is only applicable if a producer is applying for financial assistance. This number can be obtained from the USDA’s Farm Service Agency, which is typically housed within USDA Service Centers.
With a bit of legwork and organization, producers can benefit greatly from applying to cost share programs.