USDA / NRCS

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is the federal agency that works with farmers and ranchers to help them protect their natural resources and keep watersheds healthy.  NRCS emphasizes voluntary, science-based assistance, and partnerships to help plan for and implement conservation measures on the land to protect and enhance soil water, plants, wildlife, air, and other natural resources. NRCS has a close working relationship with conservation districts.  NRCS has appointed Neal Martin as our District Conservationist for Crawford County.  He provides technical assistance as well as our acting liaison between the district and federal programs.  Our USDA Fort Smith Field Service Center also employees other specialists, such as a soil conservationist, soil conservation technician, engineers, etc. to provide technical and financial conservation assistance to the Crawford County Conservation District Board.

The Crawford County Conservation District (CCCD) promotes good farming techniques used in helping to keep soil on the fields and our waters clean, all while conserving the productivity of Arkansas’ working lands.  Assistance is provided to agriculture producers to develop operations that reduce soil erosion and protect water quality.  Financial incentives are available to assist agricultural landowners who install conservation practices to decrease soil erosion and improve water quality.

Conservation Technical Assistance Program (CTA)

The CTA program helps land users in the planning and implementing of conservation systems. The purpose of conservation systems are to reduce erosion and flooding, improve air, soil and water quality, improve and conserve wetlands, enhance fish and wildlife habitat, improve pastures, and woodlands. Technical assistance is provided to landowners whether or not they are enrolled in a USDA conservation program.

Financial Assistance Programs

The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers in order to address natural resource concerns and deliver environmental benefits such as improved water and air quality, conserved ground and surface water, reduced soil erosion and sedimentation or improved or created wildlife habitat.

Benefits
Eligible program participants receive financial and technical assistance to
implement conservation practices, or activities like conservation planning, that address natural resource concerns on their land. Payments are made to participants after conservation practices and activities identified in an EQIP plan of operations are implemented. Contracts can last up to ten years in duration.

Eligibility
Agricultural producers and owners of non-industrial private forestland and
Tribes are eligible to apply for EQIP. Eligible land includes cropland, rangeland, pastureland, non-industrial private forestland and other farm or ranch lands.

Socially disadvantaged, beginning and limited resource farmers, Indian
tribes and veterans are eligible for an increased payment rate and may receive advance payment of up to 50 percent to purchase materials and services needed to implement conservation practices included in their EQIP contract.

Applicants must:
        > Control or own eligible land
        > Comply with adjusted gross income limitation (AGI) provisions
        > Be in compliance with highly erodible and wetland requirements
        > Develop an NRCS EQIP plan of operations

The Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) is a voluntary conservation program that encourages producers to address resource concerns in a comprehensive manner by undertaking additional conservation activities and improving, maintaining, and managing existing conservation activities.

Our Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) helps you build on your existing conservation efforts while strengthening your operation.  Whether you are looking to improve grazing conditions, increase crop resiliency, or develop wildlife habitat, we can custom design a CSP plan to help you meet those goals. We can help you identify natural resource problems in your operation and provide technical and financial assistance to solve those problems or attain higher stewardship levels in an environmentally beneficial and cost-effective manner. For example, we can look at ways to address the amount of soil lost; mitigate the impact of excess water; reduce the contribution of agricultural operations to airborne soil particles and greenhouse gas emissions; improve the cover, food, and water available for domestic and wildlife species; or promote energy efficiencies for on-farm activities. If you are already taking steps to improve the condition of the land, chances are CSP can help you find new ways to meet your goals.

Benefits

CSP is for working lands. It is the largest conservation program in the United States. Thousands of people voluntarily enroll in the program because it helps them enhance natural resources and improve their business operation.

CSP participants are seeing real results.  Some of these benefits include:

  1. Enhanced resiliency to weather and market volatility
  2. Decreased need for agricultural inputs
  3. Improved wildlife habitat conditions

How to Apply
Visit your local USDA Service Center to apply or visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/getstarted.

NRCS will help eligible producers develop a plan of operations, which will become the basis of the contract.

Applications will be ranked based on a number of factors, including
the environmental benefits and cost effectiveness of the proposal.

Earth Team Volunteer Program

The Earth Team is NRCS’ volunteer program. NRCS needs people who are willing to commit their time and talent to conserving and protecting soil, water, and wildlife for their community and everyone in it. Earth Team volunteers may …

  1. Work with private farmers and landowners implementing conservation practices
  2. Improve wildlife around their community
  3. Assist with data collection for soil, water or archaeology surveys
  4. Assist with office and clerical work
  5. Participate in community outreach
  6. Assist with tours, field days or workshops

Anyone age 14 and older can be an Earth Team volunteer. Opportunities are available for full-time, part-time, indoor and outdoor activities, as an individual or as part of a group. There is something for everyone. NRCS Earth Team volunteers learn about conservation and agriculture while giving back to their community and gain experience in field and office work. Opportunities for academic credit may be available and it can be a great way to meet people and to have some fun too!

USDA Non-Discrimination Statement- U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender.