Government Programs That Can Help You
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has many grant programs that are financially beneficial to farmers. These benefits are called cost-shares. Cost-shares are any amount of money that you pay towards a program that the USDA will at least match that money and in some cases pay more than you. For instance, the Grassland Reserve Program offers a 50-50 cost share. This means that if the total cost of implementing the program costs $100, you will pay $50 and the government will pay $50.
Grassland Reserve Program (GRP)
The Grassland Reserve Program offers farmers up to a 50 percent cost-share benefit to enroll in the program. This is an ideal program to produce native warm season grasses, it allows you to harvest and cut the grasses unlike the Conservation Reserve Program. The land must be planted in certified seed that is provided by the USDA. This program offers many benefits to the farm and also gives access to Farm Service Agency’s low interest loans. The program emphasizes preservation of native and natural grasslands and plant and animal biodiversity.
The overall emphasis is on preserving native and natural species. Eligible land includes grasslands; land that contains forbs; or land that is located in an area that historically has been dominated by grasslands and forbs.
Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP)
The Environmental Quality Incentive Program works with other government conservation programs to improve ecological service on farms. This program has been traditionally well funded in Arkansas and provides access to many alternative crops that are being grown in the Delta region such as sweet potatoes, the organic farming initiative and hoop housing. EQIP offers a 90 percent cost-share for farmers.
EQIP priorities in Arkansas are to reduce erosion; reduce pollution from animal wastes, nutrients and sediments; improve irrigation and reduce dependence on ground water for irrigation; forest improvements; improve grazing lands; and improve wildlife habitat.
Conservation Reserve Program (CRP)
The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) provides technical and financial assistance to eligible farmers and ranchers to address soil, water, and related natural resource concerns on their lands in an environmentally beneficial and cost-effective manner. The program provides assistance to farmers in complying with Federal and State environmental laws, and encourages environmental enhancement. CRP is administered by the Farm Service Agency, with NRCS providing technical land eligibility determinations, conservation planning and practice implementation.
The Conservation Reserve Program reduces soil erosion, protects the land’s ability to produce food, reduces sedimentation in streams and lakes, improves water quality, establishes wildlife habitat, and enhances forest and wetland resources. It encourages farmers to convert highly erodible cropland or other environmentally sensitive acreage to vegetative cover, such as tame or native grasses, wildlife plantings, trees, filter strips, or riparian buffers. Farmers receive an annual rental payment for the term of the multi-year contract. Cost sharing is provided to establish the vegetative cover practices.
Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP)
Through CSP, NRCS will provide financial and technical assistance to eligible producers to conserve and enhance soil, water, air, and related natural resources on their land. Eligible lands include cropland, grassland, prairie land, improved pastureland, rangeland, nonindustrial private forest lands, and other private agricultural land (including cropped woodland, marshes, and agricultural land used for the production of livestock) on which resource concerns related to agricultural production could be addressed. Participation in the program is voluntary.
CSP encourages land stewards to improve their conservation performance by installing and adopting additional activities, and improving, maintaining, and managing existing activities on agricultural land and nonindustrial private forest land.