The U.S. Department of Agriculture offers a variety of conservation programs to assist private landowners with natural resource concerns. Originally, programs focused on reducing soil erosion. The number and scope of programs have increased through succesive farm bills and now reflect a broader conservation agenda.
The Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) provides technical and financial assistance to help conserve and protect farm and ranch lands, grasslands and wetlands. Under the Wetlands Reserve Easements component, NRCS works directly with landowners to restore, protect and enhance enrolled wetlands. Enrolled land is not available for production. Visit the ACEP program page.
The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) encourages farmers to convert highly erodible cropland and other environmentally sensitive land to vegetative cover including native grasses, trees, filter strips, habitat buffers or riparian buffers. CRP is administered by the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA). Visit the CRP program page.
A variation of the CRP, the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) helps farmers protect environmentally sensitive land, decrease erosion, restore wildlife habitat and safeguard ground and surface water. This program is also administered by the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA). Visit the CREP program page.
The Conservation Security Program (CSP) provides financial and technical assistance to support conservation efforts on tribal and private agricultural land. The program helps producers maintain existing conservation practices and encourages them to implement new practices that will provide additional levels of conservation benefits. CSP is administered by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Visit the CSP program page.
The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) provides financial and technical ssistance through contracts to help plan and implement structural and management practices on eligible agricultural land. Contracts address natural resource concerns and opportunities to improve soil, water, plant, animal, air and related resources. EQIP can help producers meet environmental regulations. EQIP is administered by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Visit the EQIP program page.
Many states offer technical assistance and cost share funds to apply conservation practices. These programs may be administered by state departments of natural resources through soil and water conservation districts. A good place to start is your USDA service center. Staff will be aware of applicable state programs. Find a USDA Service Center
To find out more about program eligibility and/or the application process, contact the appropriate federal agency, typically located in your local USDA service center, or your local soil and water conservation district.