Cheyenne County Conservation District
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NRCS Conservation Programs
Posted on August 31, 2016
Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) is a voluntary conservation program that provides financial and technical assistance to farmers and ranchers who face threats to soil, water, air, and related natural resources on the land. Through EQIP, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) develops contracts with agricultural producers to implement conservation practices to address environmental natural resource problems. Payments are made to producers once conservation practices are completed according to NRCS requirements. Persons interested may file an application any time.

Applicants must:
• Be an agricultural producer
• Be in compliance with the highly erodible land and wetland conservation provisions of the Farm Bill
• Develop an EQIP plan of operations which includes; one or more conservation practices in the conservation management system to be implemented to achieve the conservation and environmental objectives and the schedule for implementing the conservation practices.

NRCS works with the participant to develop the EQIP plan of operations. Plan becomes the basis of the EQIP contract between NRCS and the participant. NRCS provides conservation practice payments to landowners under these contracts that can be up to 10 years in duration. Some practices are paid as a 3 year incentive and others as a flat rate one time payment. Cutoff for round one applications will be November 15, 2016.

Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) encourages agricultural and forestry producers to maintain existing conservation activities and adopt additional ones on their operations. CSP is a new voluntary conservation program that provides financial and technical assistance to conserve and enhance soil, water, air, and related natural resources on their land. CSP provides opportunities to both recognize excellent stewards and deliver valuable new conservation.

Applicants must:
• Be the operator of record in the USDA farm records management system for the eligible land being offered for enrollment
• Have documented control of the land for the term of the proposed contract
• Include the eligible land in their entire operation as represented for other USDA programs
• Be in compliance with the highly erodible land and wetland conservation provisions.

Benefits: CSP provides participants with two possible payments. An annual payment is available for installing new conservation activities and maintaining existing activities. A supplemental payment may be earned by participants receiving an annual payment who adopt a resource-conserving crop rotation.

With 5-year contracts, payments will be made as soon as practical after October of each year for contract activities installed and maintained in the previous year.

For all contracts, CSP payment to a person may not exceed $40,000 in any year and $200,000 during any 5-year period or entity $80,000.00 per year or $400,000.00 over a 5 year period.

Wetlands Reserve Easement (WRE) is a voluntary program that provides technical and financial assistance to private landowners and Tribes to restore, protect, and enhance wetlands in exchange for retiring eligible land from agriculture.

The program offers three enrollment options:
• Permanent Easement in perpetuity. USDA pays 100% of the easement value and up to 100% of restoration costs;
• 30-Year Easement is an easement that expires after 30 years. USDA pays up to 75% of the easement value and up to 75% of the restoration work.
• Restoration Cost-Share Agreement is an agreement to restore or enhance the wetland functions and values without placing an easement on the enrolled acres. USDA pays up to 75% of the restoration costs.
• The current rate cap for WRE is $2830.00 an acre.
• If you have playas that you only harvest a crop once or twice in ten years, this may be an option to consider.

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