Florida Financial Assistance Available for Agricultural Producers
Florida - Friday October 27, 2023: The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Florida announced fiscal year (FY) 2024 (October 1, 2023 through September 30, 2024) federal assistance opportunities for agricultural producers, including through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and the Conservation Stewardship Program (CPS).
While NRCS accepts applications for these programs year-round, interested applicants should apply no later than November 17 for FY 2024 EQIP and CSP funding.
“We are very excited to send this announcement to all agricultural producers. The addition of funding from the Inflation Reduction Act establishes a historic investment in our agency’s conservation efforts. In Florida, funding increases for EQIP and CSP exceed 40 percent from FY 2023 funding levels.” said NRCS Florida Acting State Conservationist Walter Albarran. “Our staff is working expeditiously with this tremendous opportunity to reach out to new agricultural producers, serve the historically underserved, and continue to support all agricultural producers as they prepare for the challenges in the years to come.”
Through EQIP, CSP, and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), more than $67 million is available for conservation practices and initiatives, including:
- Nearly $35 million through the IRA to assist farmers and farmers in implementing climate smart, mitigating activities and clean energy solutions for their daily operations. The new funding authority Act Now will be incorporated as part of IRA funding.
- $2 million for High Tunnels Systems (HTS). The HTS are designed to help producers extend the growing season, increase productivity, keep plants at a steady temperature, and conserve water and energy.
- $5 million to support EQIP Emergency Recovery related to Hurricane Idalia.
The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)provides financial assistance to agricultural producers to address natural resource concerns and deliver environmental benefits. These include improved water and air quality, improved irrigation efficiency, reduced soil erosion and sedimentation, forest restoration, and creating or enhancing wildlife habitat. For additional information download the EQIP fact sheet (PDF).
Through EQIP, NRCS Florida will be incorporating the new funding authority ACT NOW to accelerate the process of certain conservation applications for the EQIP IRA practices listed below. ACT NOW allows NRCS to immediately approve and obligate a ranked application. This means no longer having to wait for all applications to be reviewed and preapproved. Applications selected through ACT NOW will be batched and processed in the order received. Selections will be made on a weekly basis.
EQIP IRA ACT NOW Practices:
- 314: Brush Management
- 315: Herbaceous Weed Treatment
- 340: Cover Crop
- 372: Combustion System Improvement
- 484: Mulching
- 612: Tree/Shrub Establishment
- 666: Forest Stand Improvement
Historically Underserved Producer Benefits
Special provisions are also available for historically underserved producers. For EQIP, historically underserved producers are eligible for advance payments to help offset costs related to purchasing materials or contracting services up front. In addition, historically underserved producers can receive higher EQIP payment rates (up to 90 percent of average cost). NRCS sets aside EQIP and CSP funds for historically underserved producers.
The Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) allows producers to earn payments for actively managing, maintaining, and expanding conservation activities integrated within their agricultural operations. CSP enhancements, like cover crops, help producers improve soil health while protecting water quality. CSP enhancements such as Pasture Condition Score, help producers assess the health of their pastures while protecting resources. Other CSP activities help sustain and increase pollinator and beneficial insect habitat in harmony with agricultural production on their land. For more information, download the CSP fact sheet (PDF).
Applying for Assistance
Florida NRCS has 34 field offices with teams ready to help landowners with conservation programs. Applications for EQIP and CSP are accepted year-round. To find out more about our application process or to begin an application, please contact your local NRCS field office.