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Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG)
The CIG is a voluntary program that uses Environmental Quality Incentives Program funds to award competitive resource conservation grants to non-Federal governmental or non-governmental organizations, Tribes, or individuals. CIG funds projects targeting innovative on-the-ground conservation. It does not fund research projects. Instead, it is a vehicle to stimulate the development and adoption of conservation approaches or technologies that have been studied sufficiently to indicate a likelihood of success and to be candidates for eventual technology transfer. Details

updated links, please review verbiage

Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP)
An offspring of the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), CREP is a voluntary program for agricultural landowners. Through the CREP, farmers can receive annual rental payments and cost-share assistance to establish long-term, resource conserving covers on eligible land. USDA's Farm Service Agency and the State of Pennsylvania have expanded on a Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) partnership to improve the water quality of the Chesapeake Bay. The program, first announced in April 2000, was originally funded at $210 million and included 20 counties in the lower Susquehanna and Potomac River basins. The project is now expanded to an additional 100,000 acres and an additional $200 million for 23 northern tier counties. The CREP is a federal-state natural resource conservation program targeted to address state and nationally significant agricultural related environmental problems. Through CREP, program participants receive financial incentives from USDA to voluntarily enroll in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) for contracts of 10- to 15-years. Participants remove cropland or marginal pastureland from agricultural production and convert the land to native grasses, trees and other vegetation. Details

updated links, please review verbiage

Conservation Security Program (CSP)
CSP is a voluntary program that provides financial and technical assistance to promote the conservation and improvement of soil, water, air, energy, plant and animal life, and other conservation purposes on Tribal and private working lands. Working lands include cropland, grassland, prairie land, improved pasture, and range land, as well as forested land that is an incidental part of an agriculture operation. The program provides equitable access to benefits to all producers, regardless of size of operation, crops produced, or geographic location.
     Minimum conservation requirements are protection of soil and water quality, as demonstrated on cropland by proper application of nutrients and pesticides and maintaining a positive soil organic matter trend.  On pastureland, farmers must be able to document proper stocking rates, amount and kind of vegetative cover, and protection of water sources.  On both cropland and pastureland, farmers must implement practices to keep sediment out of surface water. 
    Funding for CSP is limited.  Applicants are evaluated in a nationwide selection process in which the producers who have done the most conservation activities get preference for a conservation contract.  Contracts are between five and ten years in length.
     Farmers who think they may be interested in applying for the CSP program are encouraged to do the following:

  • Perform a soil test before the ground freezes (anything completed during the last three years will be acceptable);
  • Start gathering and organizing relevant records (nutrient management, grazing, pesticide etc.);
  • Contact your county NRCS office with any specific questions you may have.

Additional information on CSP

updated links, please review verbiage

Pennsylvania Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)

EQIP is a voluntary USDA-NRCS conservation program for producers to treat soil, water and related natural resource concerns. It provides technical and financial assistance to promote environmental quality in agricultural production. The program total cost-share and incentive payment is $450,000 per individual or entity over the life of the 2002 Farm Bill (through 2007) with a cap of $100,000 per contract per year. Practice cost-share can go up to 75%. The contracts have a minimum term of one year after the last conservation practice is installed, or 10 years maximum. Only agricultural producers, individuals or entities engaged in livestock or agricultural production may participate in EQIP. To be eligible, producers need to comply, among other things, with the Highly Erodible Land/Wetland conservation provisions. For HEL, erosion must be reduced to minimum acceptable levels by the first year of the contract. Participants also must comply with Adjusted Gross Income provisions (AGI cannot exceed $2.5 million, with some exceptions if major portions of income are from agricultural sources). Applications are accepted by NRCS on a continuing basis throughout the year with cutoff dates to rank, prioritize and select applicants. EQIP is a competitive program and uses an evaluation/ranking form to assess needs and cost effectiveness.  Details

still a program? If so, need new verbiage & link

The Farm and Ranch Land Protection Program (FRPP)

Provides matching funds to help purchase development rights to keep productive farm and ranchland in agricultural uses. Working through existing programs, USDA partners with State, tribal, or local governments and non-governmental organizations to acquire conservation easements or other interests in land from landowners. USDA provides up to 50 percent of the fair market easement value of the conservation easement. To qualify, farmland must: be part of a pending offer from a State, tribe, or local farmland protection program; be privately owned; have a conservation plan for highly erodible land; be large enough to sustain agricultural production; be accessible to markets for what the land produces; have adequate infrastructure and agricultural support services; and have surrounding parcels of land that can support long-term agricultural production. Depending on funding availability, proposals must be submitted by the eligible entities to the appropriate NRCS State Office during the application window.

I have updated link, please check details 

Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP)
USDA will provide up to $1.7 million for competitive grants to develop and evaluate technological tools for fish and wildlife habitat improvements. Proposals for grants area accepted from state and local governments, federally recognized tribes and non-governmental organizations and range from $10,000 to $200,000. Selected applicants may receive up to 50 percent of the project costs. Limited resource and beginning farmers and ranchers, tribes and community-based organizations representing these groups can obtain up to 75 percent of project matching funds. Applicants will be asked how they will develop, test, implement and transfer innovative solutions that benefit fish and wildlife. Through WHIP USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service provides both technical assistance and up to 75 percent cost-share assistance to establish and improve fish and wildlife habitat. WHIP agreements between NRCS and the participant generally last from 5 to 10 years from the date the agreement is signed. By targeting wildlife habitat projects on all lands and aquatic areas, WHIP provides assistance to conservation minded landowners who are unable to meet the specific eligibility requirements of other USDA conservation programs.  Details.

I have updated link, please check details