USDA to Invest $41.8 Million in Conservation Assistance for Producers in Drought-Impacted States

Portland, Ore., June 10, 2021 – In response to historic drought conditions, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is offering $41.8 million through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) to help agricultural producers in Arizona, California, Colorado and Oregon alleviate the immediate impacts of drought and other natural resource challenges on working lands.

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will make this funding available through Conservation Incentive Contracts (CIC), a new option available through EQIP. Landowners are encouraged to apply by July 12, 2021.

NRCS Oregon has $7,534,000 available to support landowners with drought impacts to their crops, pastures, rangeland and forests. Learn more about the EQIP CIC program and eligibility here.

Through EQIP, NRCS offers conservation practices that help producers recover from the impacts of drought as well as build resiliency. These practices provide other key benefits, including mitigating impacts from climate change as well as preventing and recovering from wildfire.

“As ongoing drought conditions in Oregon continue to worsen, we knew we needed to increase our support to farmers and ranchers in dealing with drought and prepare for the challenges of tomorrow,” said Ron Alvarado, NRCS State Conservationist in Oregon. “EQIP is our flagship conservation program, and with the expanded benefits the Conservation Incentive Contracts offer, it enables producers to deploy conservation activities that strengthen existing efforts on their land to help during times of drought. Additionally, by targeting this program in several states, we can make any needed adjustments before rolling out Conservation Incentive Contracts nationwide in fiscal year 2022.”

Conservation Incentive Contracts
While Conservation Incentive Contracts are available in select states in fiscal year 2021, NRCS will roll out nationwide in fiscal year 2022, using this pilot to refine implementation of this new option.

The 2018 Farm Bill created the new Conservation Incentive Contracts option to address high-priority conservation and natural resources concerns, including drought. Through 5- to 10-year contracts, producers manage, maintain and address important natural resource concerns and build on existing conservation efforts.

Conservation Incentive Contracts offer conservation activities that producers implement to address resource concerns. 

NRCS will set aside $11.8 million directly for drought-related practices. Practices include forest stand improvement, woody residue treatment, tree and shrub establishment, brush management, prescribed grazing, pasture and hay planting, range planting, livestock watering systems and cover crops.

How to Apply
To learn more about Conservation Incentive Contracts, visit the EQIP CIC webpage. Producers in Arizona, California, Colorado and Oregon who are interested in this targeted funding should apply by July 12, 2021 by contacting their local USDA Service Center offsite link image    . 

While USDA offices may be closed to visitors because of the pandemic, Service Center staff continue to work with agricultural producers via phone, email, and other digital tools. To conduct business, please contact your local USDA Service Center. Contact information can be found at offsite link image    .

This funding announcement supersedes previous funding announcements related to drought relief.

More Information
Additional NRCS programs include the Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) Program, which provides technical and financial assistance through local government sponsors for addressing imminent threat to life (human) and/or property caused by drought.  Sponsors must submit a formal request (via mail or email) to the state conservationist  and an emergency declaration must be issued related to the drought based on the merit of the cases received  within 60 days of the natural disaster occurrence or 60 days from the date when access to the sites is possible. 

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 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