There’s never been a better time to apply for CSP, EQIP

Kate Hansen.

If you are a farmer or rancher, there has never been a better time to apply for popular conservation programs offered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). In Iowa, the deadline to submit initial paperwork for the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) and Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) is Nov. 3.

For years, CSP and EQIP have provided financial and technical assistance to implement beneficial practices on agricultural lands, like cover crops and rotational grazing. In 2022 alone, more than half of a million acres were enrolled in CSP and EQIP in Iowa.

While popular, the programs usually have limited funding. In recent memory, it has been difficult to be accepted into them, even with a strong application.

This year is different. Last year the federal Inflation Reduction Act made historic investments in conservation programs and millions of dollars still need to be put to good use. In a win for producers, this means more applications will be funded than in the past.

Funding is available for the full range of CSP and EQIP practices, and additional funds will be geared toward practices like cover crops, no-till, field borders, prescribed grazing, and nutrient management.

Both programs are administered by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). If you are interested in applying, reach out to your local NRCS office as soon as possible. A list of local offices can be found at nrcs.usda.gov/contact/find-a-service-center.

Farmers and ranchers know better than anyone the advantages of an abundant year. After years of program backlog, act now to enroll in CSP and EQIP.

Kate Hansen is senior policy associate at the Center for Rural Affairs. Established in 1973, the Center for Rural Affairs is a private, non-profit organization working to strengthen small businesses, family farms and ranches, and rural communities through action oriented programs addressing social, economic, and environmental issues.