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Deadlines Extended for CSP and EQIP

Extended Deadlines for CSP and EQIP Program Assistance with Inflation Reduction Act Funding: Southeast US and Caribbean Area Applications Due in March or April

USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) can provide substantial conservation support, most notably EQIP or CSP “cost-share” assistance, for a multitude of enhancements or practices that treat natural resource concerns on cropland, pasture, rangeland, forests, and wildlife lands/small water bodies. However, the application process is often difficult to understand, the level of advice or individualized attention from agents can vary, and the wait for funding can feel long. Having someone who walks you through the process, helps you understand your eligibility, what to expect, and what to ask NCRS can make a big difference. That’s what RAFI-USA and partners Alliance for Agriculture and Good Food Coalition Virgin Islands are here to do in our new Conservation Resources for Resilient Farms project.

We can help you for as long as it takes to better understand NRCS, feel confident with your application and submitting the required materials, and what to do if you are not selected for funding in the competitive process. But sometimes, NRCS releases deadlines with short notice, such as this now, and you may need a quick start guide to get your foot in the door until a RAFI-USA or partner staff person can support you more fully.

If you live in the U.S. Southeast or Caribbean Area, the time to apply is NOW! Get started with the guidance below. With the passage of the IRA, NRCS has more funding for CSP and EQIP contracts this year than at any time in the last decade. 

CRITICAL ANNOUNCEMENT FOR SOUTHEAST U.S. AND U.S. CARIBBEAN FARMERS

If you are planning to make conservation enhancements on your farm, range, or forest land in 2023 and it makes sense to get support for such enhancements through NRCS, you will need to do one to two important things by the following dates based on your location:

STATEDEADLINE
LouisianaMarch 17, 2023
North CarolinaMarch 17, 2023
VirginiaMarch 17, 2023
AlabamaMarch 24, 2023
FloridaMarch 24, 2023
GeorgiaMarch 24, 2023
MarylandMarch 24, 2023
South CarolinaMarch 24, 2023
West VirginiaApril 14, 2023
MissouriApril 21, 2023
U.S. CaribbeanApril 21, 2023
Washington, D.C. Contact Colleen Kiefer
[email protected]

Are you thinking “yikes?” Yes, it’s a tight turnaround — but these steps are achievable by those deadlines and will get your foot in the door for more planning and assistance from NRCS soon down the road.  

To help clarify the application process, here are important steps for first-time NRCS applicants.  (If you do not have a farm number, skip to the bottom section.  If you’ve had a bad experience applying in the past, scroll to the bottom to learn how a RAFI-USA staff person can assist you.)

If you already have an FSA-issued “Farm Number”

  1. Determine if you want to apply for NRCS assistance as an individual or as a farm entity
  2. Have your farm number and tract number on hand.
  3. Determine if you can complete an application online or printed on your own or if you need in-person or over-the-phone NRCS assistance completing it.
  4. Call or email your local USDA service Center’s NRCS contact to inform them of your intent to apply.  Email is strongly suggested. In the email you should state:
    1. your name, county, farm number
    2. how you will submit your application (by email, mail, or in person). If you know you do not want to submit anything with your social security number over email, ask if you can submit everything filled in EXCEPT the SSN, and if they can fill it in for you over the phone once they have your documents in hand. They may tell you to email your application to a specific person handling the paperwork.  They may offer guidance in completing the application, but if they do not, follow the next step!  (It is always a better scenario for them to advise you because depending on the conservation services you are looking for, you may need to submit more than one application.)
    3. SEND this email in advance or along with your completed application
  5. Complete form CPA-1200 (click to download) and submit to your USDA/NRCS Service Center’s Soil Supervisor.  Important note:  This form serves as an interest or intake form for NRCS staff and gets you consideration for Fiscal Year 2023 NRCS cost-share funding.  This form is not contractual and does not guarantee you financial support.  It will however hold your place for consideration for conservation assistance and funding in 2023. If you are interested in more than one conservation practice, you MAY need to complete more than one CPA-1200.  If you are interested in conservation practices in more than one area of your farm (such as pasture/grazing land AND crop land or crop land AND forested land), you will definitely need to complete more than one CPA-1200.  If you need assistance completing this form, contact me or your local NRCS “Soil Supervisor.” 
  6. Then submit the forms by email, mail, or in person to the person above or to anyone else you’re instructed to send it to by the deadline in your state date by 5:00 p.m. If you email it, state the following in your email:
    • who you are
    • where you are located
    • ask if you have up-to-date farm records, including an up-to-date Adjusted Gross Income verification form CCC-941 and Highly Erodible Land and Wetland Certification form AD-1026
    • state why you need NRCS support (state your resource concern(s) and any practices you know you want to implement and where on the farm, plus anything else you need to learn more about during an agent’s future visit to your farm.
      • Example: My sheep will have insufficient forage once I move them and I need brush management, silvopasture support, and other practices that help me improve their forage and maintain forest buffer plant health where my sheep will be grazing. I am interested in EQIP financial assistance and the CSP-Climate Smart Agriculture and Forestry‘s initiative practice Prescribed Grazing (code 528).
    • State that you are applying by the XX date ranking date for Fiscal Year 2023 consideration with special IRA funds and to be contacted ASAP if anything in your application or eligibility is missing.
  1. DOUBLE CHECK if you or your farm entity has an “active” and up-to-date Farm Record with FSA. Call your FSA agent and ask, “Is my 2023 Farm Record up to date?”  If they do not list the forms that are all up to date, ask about each of these forms individually to confirm and do not hand up until you know with certainty that FSA has them on file and UP TO DATE:
    1. Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) 941 (English only)
    2. Farm Operation Plan for Individual or Entity 
      1. 901-I for Individual (English / Spanish)
      2. 902-E for Entity (English only)
    3. Highly Erodible Land and Wetland Conservation (HELCWC) AD-1026( English/ Spanish
    4. Historically Underserved Farmer/Rancher Form CCC-860 (English / Spanish)
  2. Schedule an appointment with your local USDA Service Center’s NRCS Soil Supervisor, in office or on your land.  

If you do not have a farm number: 

It is not necessarily too late to receive one and apply to NRCS by the ranking date deadline.  First, call your local FSA agent to notify them of your need to apply to NRCS by XX date and thus your immediate need for a farm number.  Because some USDA offices might have limited in person hours during the pandemic the agent may ask for your email and send you the “Customer Data Worksheet” to complete and sign or ask you to make an in-person appointment.  Be sure to ask if an “electronic signature” (typing your name) will suffice on this form.  If it will not and you have to hand-sign, you will need a way to print, scan/take a picture of the completed form, and email back to your agent.  If you do not have email, please contact Jaimie at 984-282-6047 for assistance.  

To speed this process up and keep both FSA and NRCS in the loop together, email both your local service center’s FSA agent and the NRCS Soil Supervisor with:

  1. your name
  2. desire to apply for NRCS assistance by XX date
  3. your county
  4. farm/forestland address
  5. a completed Customer Data Worksheet
  6. a request for a farm site visit in order to be considered for 2023 IRA assistance. 

If you provided sufficient documents and if the agent can easily locate your farm in their mapping system, some agents will create a farm record and issue you a farm number within the week.  I don’t like to say it, but others can take up to 3 months or in some cases, more.

If you have applied to NCRS in the past, been denied, or have other questions about applying for NRCS assistance or want support in preparing for an NRCS agent to visit your farm or forest land, please reach out to Jaimie McGirt at [email protected] or find your state/territory’s RAFI-USA technical assistance provider or partner below.  You can learn more about our NRCS technical assistance here.

RAFI-USA assistance for NRCS applicants offered by state:

VA, WV, MD – Anita Roberson, [email protected]

KY, TN, AR, MS, LA – Carolina Algate-Gouzy, [email protected]

AL – Dominique Villanueva, [email protected]

NC, SC, GA, FL – Jaimie McGirt, [email protected]

NC – Jacob Crandall, [email protected] 

Puerto Rico – Norysell Massanet of Alliance for Agriculture, [email protected] 

US Virgin Islands – Nicole Pacheco of Virgin Islands Good Food Coalition, [email protected]

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