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Biden-Harris Administration Makes Available Historic $3 Billion for Climate-Smart Practices on Agricultural Lands Through Investing in America Agenda

Agricultural Producers Can Now Apply for Fiscal Year 2024 Conservation Assistance, Highest in History 

WASHINGTON, September 28, 2023 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is making more than $3 billion in funding available for agricultural producers and forest landowners nationwide to participate in voluntary conservation programs and adopt climate-smart practices in fiscal year 2024 as part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda. The announcement comes as the Biden-Harris Administration hosts the first-ever White House Climate Resilience Summit.

These funds are provided by President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act – the largest climate and conservation investment in history. This law invests an additional $19.5 billion for USDA’s popular conservation programs. These programs also advance the President’s Justice40 Initiative, which aims to ensure 40 percent of the overall benefits of certain climate, clean energy, and other federal investments reach disadvantaged communities that have been marginalized by underinvestment and overburdened by pollution. On the heels of last week’s announcement that USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) saw record producer interest in these resources in fiscal year 2023, the agency is now accepting applications from producers interested in this additional conservation assistance for fiscal year 2024.

“Thanks to President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, we have additional resources to invest in climate-smart practices as we continue to see high demand for these popular conservation programs,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “This funding will be used to meet producer demand for our oversubscribed programs and maximize climate benefits across the country while also providing other important environmental benefits. This includes investing in popular common-sense practices such as cover crops, waste and fertilizer management, and grazing practices, while continuing to work through existing programs to help producers address other natural resource challenges. Ultimately, this will lead to economic opportunity for producers, more productive soil, cleaner water and air, healthier wildlife habitat and natural resource conservation for future generations.”

These additional investments are estimated to help hundreds of thousands of farmers and ranchers apply conservation to millions of acres of land. These funds provide direct climate mitigation benefits, advance a host of other environmental co-benefits, and expand access to financial and technical assistance for producers to advance conservation on their farm, ranch or forest land through practices like cover cropping, conservation tillage, wetland restoration, prescribed grazing, nutrient management, tree planting and more.

USDA is opening up the application period for fiscal year 2024 conservation assistance giving producers the opportunity to apply for this historic funding. However, in the event of a lapse in government funding, technical assistance, one-on-one help in answering questions, and other support for producers in navigating the application process would not be immediately available until the funding lapse ends. In the event of a funding lapse, NRCS would notify producers when staff are available to assist.

What’s New

Expansion of Climate-Smart Agriculture and Forestry Activities supported by the Inflation Reduction Act

NRCS is increasing Climate-Smart Agricultural and Forestry Mitigation Activities eligible for Inflation Reduction Act funding for fiscal year 2024 through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP). These in-demand activities are expected to deliver reductions in greenhouse gas emissions or increases in carbon sequestration as well as significant other benefits to natural resources like soil health, water quality, pollinator and wildlife habitat and air quality. In response to feedback received from conservation partners, producers and NRCS staff across the country, NRCS considered and evaluated activities based on scientific literature demonstrating expected climate change mitigation benefits. To learn more, download the list of practices and a fact sheet.

When applied through this framework, these activities are expected to deliver reductions in greenhouse gas emissions or increases in carbon sequestration. NRCS will continue to evaluate additional practices as science progresses and will evaluate and identify quantification methodologies during the fiscal year.

Expansion of priorities for the ACEP investments through the Inflation Reduction Act

Additionally, NRCS is expanding the national priority areas eligible for Inflation Reduction Act funding for Agricultural Conservation Easements Program (ACEP) easements in fiscal year 2024. For ACEP Agricultural Land Easements (ALE), NRCS is prioritizing securing:

  • Grasslands in areas of highest risk for conversion to non-grassland uses to prevent the release of soil carbon stores.
  • Agricultural lands under threat of conversion to non-agricultural uses.
  • State-specific priorities including rice cultivation on subsiding highly organic soils.

For ACEP Wetland Reserve Easements (WRE), NRCS is prioritizing:

  • Land with soils high in organic carbon.
  • Eligible lands that will be restored to and managed as forests like bottomland hardwood forests.
  • Eligible lands in existing forest cover that will be managed as forests.
  • Several geographically specific priorities (i.e., former cranberry bogs, wet meadows, and ephemeral wetlands in grassland ecosystems).


The Inflation Reduction Act provides funds to the EQIP, CSP, ACEP and Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). For fiscal year 2024, which begins Oct. 1, 2023, the Inflation Reduction Act provides an additional $1.65 billion for EQIP, $472 million for CSP, and $189 million for ACEP, and $754 million for RCPP.

How to Apply

NRCS accepts producer applications for its conservation programs year-round, but producers interested in this cycle of Inflation Reduction Act funding should apply as soon as possible. Producers interested in EQIP or CSP should apply by their state’s ranking dates for consideration this year. 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.

Similarly, NRCS accepts applications year-round for ACEP Agricultural Land Easements (ACEP-ALE) and Wetland Reserve Easements (ACEP-WRE), producers interested in this funding cycle must apply by Nov. 13, 2023. NRCS will also consider previously unfunded applications in this round.

NRCS plans to roll out the next RCPP funding opportunity in late January 2024.

NRCS will announce other opportunities for agreements and partnerships at the state level for fiscal year 2024 in the coming months. The Inflation Reduction Act provides funding to support those strategic partnerships with local, regional and national organizations. This will include outreach to underserved producers to ensure Inflation Reduction Act climate funding is reaching those who have been previously unable to access conservation assistance.

Interested producers should contact the NRCS at their local USDA Service Center.

More Information

On Nov. 21, 2022, USDA published a Federal Register Notice requesting public input on implementation of the funding provided by the Inflation Reduction Act and sought comments on program delivery and outreach, especially for underserved producers. That notice closed on Dec. 21, 2022, and NRCS received over 450 comments that are helping improve program delivery by removing administrative burdens, streamlining, and expediting program enrollment; building agency and partner capacity to deliver services more quickly; and providing more equitable services. For more information about how NRCS is incorporating public feedback, see Turning Your Feedback Into Action on the Inflation Reduction Act.

On Aug. 16, 2022, President Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act, the largest climate investment in history, into law. It is a historic, once-in-a-generation investment and opportunity for the agricultural communities that USDA serves. The Inflation Reduction Act will help producers stay on the farm, prevent producers from becoming ineligible for future assistance and promote climate-smart agriculture by increasing access to conservation assistance.

USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. Under the Biden-Harris administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit


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