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Additional Farm Bill, IRA Funding Available for NRCS Pacific Islands Area Conservation Programs

Due to an increase in available funding, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is now accepting applications through May 3 for agricultural producers and foresters in the Pacific Islands Area.

 NRCS is encouraging agricultural producers and forest landowners in the Pacific Islands Area to participate in voluntary conservation programs and adopt climate-smart practices in fiscal year 2024 as part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda. 

This marks the third round of submissions opened to Pacific Islands Area applicants seeking fiscal year 2024 funding for conservation programs – with the first being Nov. 3, 2023, and the second March 8. Available programs include the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) and Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP), which help a wide variety of producers, including urban and organic producers.

Applicants who miss Pacific Islands Area cut-off dates can still apply for NRCS conservation programs year-round. Producers can apply for funding from both the Farm Bill and the Inflation Reduction Act. In many cases, because of additional flexibilities, applications for eligible practices that meet or exceed state-determined minimum ranking thresholds will automatically be considered for priority funding when applying for EQIP and CSP. 

“Whether you measure your farm in square feet or acres, or you farm in the country or in the middle of the city, the Natural Resources Conservation Service has conservation assistance for you,” said NRCS Pacific Islands Area Director J.B. Martin. “Right now, we are offering a historic amount of funding through both the Farm Bill and the Inflation Reduction Act, so you should apply today. 

“We encourage all who have natural resource concerns, including producers who haven’t worked with us before, to consider applying. A conservation plan and program may be right for your ag operation.”  

Investing in climate-smart practices
For fiscal year 2024, NRCS has $3 billion in Inflation Reduction Act funds to invest in climate-smart mitigation activities. This year, NRCS expanded the list of those activities and added priority areas for ACEP for grasslands, wetlands and farmlands at risk of conversion. Learn more about those expansions in our Sept. 28, 2023 news release

Additionally, NRCS has more than $2 billion in Farm Bill funding for fiscal year 2024 available to producers for priorities like organic and urban agriculture, soil health, water quality and quantity, and wildlife habitat development. This extensive amount of funding will be used to meet producer demand for our oversubscribed programs, maximize climate benefits and help producers address their natural resource challenges. 

Inflation Reduction Act
The Inflation Reduction Act, the largest climate investment in history, is a historic, once-in-a-generation investment and opportunity for the agricultural communities that USDA serves. The Inflation Reduction Act will help producers stay on the farm, prevent producers from becoming ineligible for future assistance and promote climate-smart agriculture by increasing access to conservation assistance. 

In addition to the investments in agriculture, the Inflation Reduction Act extended authorities for certain Farm Bill programs – EQIP, CSP, ACEP and Regional Conservation Partnership Program – until fiscal year 2031. For more information about assistance available, contact your local Pacific Islands Area USDA Service Center

Organic Agriculture 
NRCS provides technical and financial assistance for conservation practices that are popular among organic and traditional producers. These practices include the use of cover crops, integrated pest management, drip irrigation, high tunnels and rotational grazing. Additionally, NRCS assists producers transitioning to organic production through a new organic management conservation practice, which was introduced in fiscal year 2023 as part of USDA’s Organic Transition Initiative. 

The new organic management practice allows producers flexibility to get the assistance and education they need, such as attending workshops or requesting help from experts or mentors. It supports organic conservation activities and practices required for organic certification and may provide foregone income reimbursement for dips in production during the transition period. Learn more on NRCS’ Organic Agriculture webpage

Urban Agriculture 
NRCS provides technical and financial assistance for conservation practices that are popular among urban producers. These practices include the use of high tunnels, soil health management systems, composting, irrigation, and weed and pest management. Urban agriculture includes the cultivation, processing, and distribution of agricultural products in urban and suburban areas. Community gardens, rooftop farms, hydroponic, aeroponic and aquaponic facilities and vertical production, are all examples of urban agriculture. Learn more on NRCS’ Urban Agriculture webpage

Source : usda.gov

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