Climate-Smart Agriculture and Forestry

Are you interested in climate-smart solutions for your agricultural or forestry operation? USDA offers voluntary programs and services to help you build soil health, sequester carbon, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, enhance productivity and commodity marketability, and mitigate the impacts of climate change while building resilience to strengthen your operation. 

Climate-Smart Agriculture and Forestry for Your Operation

USDA offers financial assistance and one-on-one technical advice through a suite of voluntary programs to directly support farmers, ranchers, private forest landowners, and partners in implementing climate-smart management solutions. Programs include: 
 

Agricultural Conservation Easement Program

The Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) helps landowners and other entities protect, restore, and enhance wetlands, grasslands, and working farms and ranches through conservation easements. ACEP is available through USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). 

Easements can be leveraged to keep agricultural land in production, thereby maintaining carbon sequestration benefits over time. Easements may also be used to restore and enhance wetlands, which sequester carbon and contribute to climate resiliency.  

Conservation Stewardship Program

The Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) offers technical and financial assistance to help agricultural and forest producers take existing conservation efforts to the next level. Through this program, NRCS provides opportunities for producers to apply conservation practices across their entire operation through a five-year contract.

If you’ve already pursued conservation across your working land and would like to do more, CSP could deliver new opportunities to apply climate-smart practices.

In  January 2022, NRCS updated CSP to allow an agricultural producer to immediately re-enroll in the program following an unfunded application to renew an existing contract. Learn more.

Conservation Reserve Program

The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) provides rental payments and cost-share assistance for agricultural producers to put environmentally sensitive land into 10-15 year contracts to plant resource-conserving plant species that control soil erosion, improve water quality, develop wildlife habitat, and boost carbon sequestration.

USDA’s Farm Service Agency has made recent updates to strengthen climate benefits delivered through CRP. Reference the CRP What's New fact sheet to learn more about program updates implemented in 2021.

Environmental Quality Incentives Program

The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) provides financial and one-on-one technical assistance to implement conservation practices to meet your specific conservation and production goals.

EQIP supports climate-smart conservation practices that enable agricultural producers and land managers to sequester carbon and reduce greenhouse gas emissions across a diversity of operations while building resilience for the future.

In January 2022, NRCS expanded EQIP Conservation Incentives Contracts to be available nationwide and invested $38 million through the new targeted Cover Crop Initiative to help agricultural producers in 11 states mitigate climate change through the widespread adoption of cover crops. States include Arkansas, California, Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Mississippi, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and South Dakota. Learn more.

USDA offers additional programs that support climate-smart conservation efforts through grant and partnership opportunities. Programs include: 

Conservation Innovation Grants

The Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) program drives public and private sector innovation in natural resource conservation through projects that address our nation’s water quality, air quality, soil health, and wildlife habitat challenges, all while improving agricultural operations and delivering climate solutions. CIG is available through NRCS.

The CIG program has three components – CIG Classic, CIG On-Farm Conservation Innovation Trials, and state-level CIG. Details of each are outlined on the NRCS CIG program webpage

Regional Conservation Partnership Program

Through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP), conservation partners work in collaboration with NRCS to help farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners implement systems that conserve water and soil resources, improve the health of wildlife habitats, and increase climate resilience.

Partners apply for RCPP projects through NRCS, then producers, landowners, and partners enter into contracts to carry out conservation activities. Learn more on the NRCS RCPP program webpage.  

USDA Service Centers are staffed with conservation experts ready to provide custom, one-on-one support based on your specific climate-smart management and production goals. Through the Conservation Technical Assistance Program (CTA), NRCS offers targeted advice and information – based on the latest science and research – to  help producers make informed decisions. This support is offered at no cost to the producers we serve.

Contact your local USDA Service Center to learn more about programs and services to support climate-smart solutions for your working land. Visit farmers.gov/program-deadlines for more information on application deadlines and state ranking dates.  

Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities Funding Opportunity

On February 7, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture is delivering on its promise to expand markets by investing $1 billion in partnerships to support America’s climate-smart farmers, ranchers and forest landowners. The new Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities opportunity will finance pilot projects that create market opportunities for U.S. agricultural and forestry products that use climate-smart practices and include innovative, cost-effective ways to measure and verify greenhouse gas benefits. USDA is now accepting project applications for fiscal year 2022.

This funding opportunity defines climate-smart commodities as being produced using agricultural (farming, ranching or forestry) practices that reduce greenhouse gas emissions or sequester carbon. Funding will be provided to partners through the USDA’s Commodity Credit Corporation for pilot projects to provide incentives to producers and landowners to:

  • Implement climate-smart production practices, activities, and systems on working lands,
  • Measure/quantify, monitor and verify the carbon and greenhouse gas (GHG) benefits associated with those practices, and
  • Develop markets and promote the resulting climate-smart commodities.

A range of public and private entities may apply. The primary applicant must be an entity, not an individual.

Funding will be provided in two funding pools.

On March 11, 2022, USDA extended the deadlines to apply for the Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities funding opportunity after requests from many stakeholders.  Applicants must submit their applications via Grants.gov by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on:

  • May 6, 2022, for the first funding pool (proposals from $5 million to $100 million), and 
  • June 10, 2022, for the second funding pool (proposals from $250,000 to $4,999,999). 

Visit usda.gov/climate-smart-commodities for additional information, including details on Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities and resources to support your application.

Disaster Protection and Recovery

Farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners experience the impacts of climate change through shifting weather patterns and increasingly frequent and severe storms, floods, drought, and wildfire. At USDA, we offer a suite of programs to help offset losses as well as crop insurance and other coverage options to help manage risk and provide a safety net for your operation.

Post Application Coverage Endorsement

In crop year 2022, USDA’s Risk Management Agency introduced Post Application Coverage Endorsement (PACE) to help corn farmers improve water quality while gaining efficiencies and reducing costs by specifically supporting the practice of “split application.” PACE provides supplemental coverage when a producer is prevented from post/split applying nitrogen in the two to three week V3-V10 corn growth stages due to wet weather and field conditions.

PACE is available for non-irrigated corn in select counties in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Michigan, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Ohio. The first sales closing date to purchase insurance is March 15, 2022.

Pandemic Cover Crop Program

Through the Pandemic Cover Crop Program (PCCP), USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) provided premium support of up to $5 per acre for agricultural producers who insured their spring crop with most insurance policies and planted a qualifying cover crop during the 2021 crop year.

Enrollment for PCCP ended on June 15, 2021.

Visit rma.usda.gov/topics/conservation for more information about these and other climate-smart insurance programs.

Visit farmers.gov/protection-recovery to learn more about options to prepare for and recover from the impacts of natural disasters. Use our Disaster Assistance Discovery Tool to determine what programs might be right for you through five simple steps. 

Resources

Find Your Local Service Center

We are committed to delivering USDA services to America’s farmers and ranchers while taking safety measures in response to the pandemic. Some USDA offices are beginning to reopen to limited visitors by appointment only. Service Center staff also continue to work with agricultural producers via phone, email, and other digital tools. Learn more at farmers.gov/coronavirus.

USDA Service Centers are locations where you can connect with Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service, or Rural Development employees for your business needs. Enter your state and county below to find your local service center and agency offices. If this locator does not work in your browser, please visit offices.usda.gov.

Visit the Risk Management Agency website to find a regional or compliance office or to find an insurance agent near you.