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Inflation Reduction Act Funding for Climate-Smart Agriculture in Illinois

An egret standing in wetlands area.
Tyler Butler

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is making funding available for agricultural producers and forest landowners nationwide to participate in voluntary conservation programs and adopt climate-smart practices. The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) provided an additional $19.5 billion over five years for climate smart agriculture through several of the conservation programs that USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) implements.

Nationally, NRCS is making available $850 million in fiscal year 2023 for its conservation programs: the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) and Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP).

These funds will provide direct climate mitigation benefits and will expand access to financial and technical assistance for producers to advance conservation on their farm or forest land through practices like cover crops, conservation tillage, wetland restoration, prescribed grazing, nutrient management, tree planting, and more.

How to Apply

NRCS accepts producer applications for its conservation programs year-round, but producers interested in CSP or EQIP financial assistance through IRA should apply by Illinois’ application deadline of April 28, 2023 to be considered for funding in the current cycle. Funding is provided through a competitive process and will include an opportunity to address the unmet demand from producers who have previously sought funding for climate-smart conservation activities.

Producers interested in CSP or EQIP should submit a signed application (NRCS-CPA-1200 form) to the local NRCS field office. A blank NRCS-CPA-1200 application form may be obtained from the NRCS staff. Otherwise, an application may be submitted through the Farmers.gov website using your farmers.gov account. Producers who wish to use Farmers.gov, can sign in or create an account by clicking on “Sign up” in the upper right portion of the website.

CSP and EQIP applications submitted by April 28, 2023 will be evaluated by local NRCS staff. The NRCS staff will work with an applicant to assess land and resource concerns, answer ranking questions, and determine program eligibility. If an application is ranked high enough to be funded, the NRCS staff will work with the applicant to develop a contract.

For more information on CSP and EQIP, contact the local NRCS field office or visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/il

Leah Lerner is a media writer, producer, and announcer at WSIU Public Broadcasting located at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Contact WSIU Radio at 618-453-6101 or email wsiunews@wsiu.org.
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