Millions Available for Special Conservation Priorities in California

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Written by Jane Sooby on Wednesday, January 31, 2024
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The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in California is accepting applications for three popular conservation priorities through February 16, 2024. This funding is in addition to the millions available to California’s agricultural producers through the regular Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and the new Inflation Reduction Act.

“NRCS California is committed to assisting agricultural producers to address critical resource needs across the state, and these three popular initiatives go even further with strategic enhancements on farms and ranches,” said NRCS California State Conservationist Carlos Suarez. “In addition, these three initiatives bring important water quality and organic partners to the table to help us to better meet the needs of producers.”

Interested landowners should contact their local NRCS offices as soon as possible or visit

Through EQIP, there are millions of dollars available for conservation practices and initiatives, including the following:

  • NRCS and Bureau of Reclamation WaterSMART partner projects to help improve water infrastructure, delivery, and application on farms. Three new projects selected for fiscal year 2024 include areas in Fresno and Tulare counties.
  • National Water Quality Initiative for targeted conservation actions to improve water quality. Two new projects for fiscal year 2024 include the Clearlake Watershed (Lake County) and the Pescadero Watershed (San Mateo County).
  • The new Organic Transition Initiative that helps interested farmers transition to organic farming methods. 

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. The Organic Farming Research Foundation has created guides for applying for EQIP in English and Spanish.

Free Technical Assistance

NRCS offers conservation technical assistance at no cost to give producers personalized advice and information, based on the latest science and research, to help them make informed decisions. If a producer chooses to take the next step toward improving their operations, NRCS staff can work with them to develop a free, personalized conservation plan, with conservation practices that can help them reach their agricultural production and conservation goals. Typically, the plan will include land use maps, soils information, inventory of resources, engineering notes, and other supporting information.

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 Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) funds for historically underserved producers.

About Us

NRCS has provided leadership in a partnership effort to help America's private landowners and managers conserve their soil, water, and other natural resources since 1935. For more information, please visit

Adapted from an NRCS news release published November 22, 2023.