The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Natural Resources and Conservation Services (NRCS) offer a variety of programs and services to farmers, new farmers people living in rural areas. These programs provide many services such as farm loans, housing assistance, Environmental Quality Incentive Programs, and the Conservation Reserve Program for beginning farmers and ranchers.
The Farm Service Agency (FSA) makes operating loans to family sized farmers and ranchers who obtain credit from a bank or other lenders. These loans can be used to construct buildings or purchase land, livestock, equipment, and other supplies. These programs also make funding available to individuals to finance improvements necessary to make their homes decent, safe, and sanitary. The Farm Service Agency, provides loans to beginning farmers and ranchers who are unable to obtain financing from commercial credit sources. Each year, the agency targets a portion of its direct and guaranteed farm ownership and operating loan funds to beginning farmers and ranchers.
Environmental Quality Incentive Programs
The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) is a voluntary program through the NRCS. This program provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers to plan and implement conservation practices that improve soil, water, plant, animal, air and related natural resources on agricultural land and non-industrial private forestland. Owners of land in agricultural or forest production or people who are engaged in livestock, agricultural or forest production on eligible land and that have a natural resource concern on that land can apply to participate in EQIP. Payments are made on completed practices or activities identified in an EQIP contract that meet NRCS standards.
Pictures above is a cattle crossing put in a creek designed to limit stream bank erosion by cattle, put in through the EQIP program.
Conservation Reserve Program
The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) is a land conservation program administered by the FSA. In exchange for a yearly rental payment, farmers enrolled in the program agree to remove environmentally sensitive land from agricultural production and plant species that will improve environmental health and quality. Contracts for land enrolled in CRP are 10-15 years in length. The long-term goal of the program is to re-establish valuable land cover to help improve water quality, prevent soil erosion, and reduce loss of wildlife habitat. In addition to contributing to improvement of the environment in multiple ways, those enrolled in CRP receive an annual rental payment for their enrolled acres. The FSA also provides cost-sharing and other incentives to help offset the costs associated with putting these practices in place.
My name is Kreed Lewey, I am a senior at Western Illinois University. My major is Agriculture Science with a focus in agronomy. I grew up on a small family farm in Southern Illinois where I developed a love for agriculture. if you are interested in learning more about these programs you can contact your local USDA office or visit the USDA website.