USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service to invest $19.5 billion in agriculture

The passage of the Inflation Reduction Act will deliver $19.5 billion in new conservation funding to support climate-smart agriculture, said the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

This historic funding will bolster the new steps that USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) announced to improve opportunities for nutrient management. NRCS will target funding, increase program flexibilities, and launch a new outreach campaign to promote nutrient management’s economic benefits and expand partnerships into developing nutrient management plans.

According to a press release, this is part of USDA’s broader effort to address future fertilizer availability and cost challenges for U.S. producers.

“Agriculture has long been at the forefront of our fight against climate change. From climate-smart agriculture to supporting healthy forests and conservation, to tax credits, to biofuels, infrastructure, and beyond, the Inflation Reduction Act provides USDA with significant additional resources to continue to lead the charge,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

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Through USDA’s conservation programs, America’s farmers and ranchers will have streamlined opportunities to improve their nutrient management planning, which provides conservation benefits while mitigating the impacts of supply chain disruptions and increased input costs.

NRCS efforts include:

  • Streamlined Nutrient Management Initiative – A streamlined initiative will incentivize nutrient management activities through key conservation programs in agriculture, including the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), EQIP Conservation Incentive Contracts, and the Conservation Stewardship Program.
  • Nutrient Management Economic Benefits Outreach Campaign – A new outreach campaign will highlight farmers’ economic benefits of nutrient management planning. The potential net savings to farmers who adopt a nutrient management plan is estimated to be an average of $30 per acre for cropland. It is estimated that there are 89 million acres of cropland (28% of total U.S. cropland) currently exceeding the nitrogen loss threshold, and if all those acres implemented a nutrient management plan, the average net savings would be $2.6 billion.
  • Expanded Nutrient Management Support through Technical Service Providers Streamlining and Pilots – New agreements with key partners who have existing capacity to support nutrient management agriculture planning and technical assistance will expand benefits and serve as a model to continue streamlining the certification process for Technical Service Providers (TSPs).

Alongside the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act and American Rescue Plan, the Inflation Reduction Act provides once-in-a-generation investment in rural communities and their infrastructure needs while also responding to the climate crisis.

For more information and resources for nutrient management planning in agriculture, visit Contact NRCS at your local USDA Service Center to get assistance with a nutrient management plan for your land.