Financial Assistance from USDA
We’re partnering with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to streamline access to technical and financial support for Whidbey’s farmers.
USDA offers help unique to the concerns of historically underserved producers: beginning, socially disadvantaged, limited resource, and military veterans. In addition, women in agriculture are helping to pave the way for a better future. Use this self-determination tool to see if you’re a limited resource producer.
USDA's Census of Agriculture shows that Island County has one of the largest percentages of historically underserved producers when compared to surrounding counties - 97% small, 50% women, 34% beginning, 17% veteran, and 7% minority.
These producers are eligible for higher rates of financial assistance from USDA. We'll help you navigate the process.
Natural Resource Conservation
NRCS provides agricultural producers and non-industrial forest managers with financial resources and one-on-one help to plan and implement improvements, or what NRCS calls conservation practices. Using these practices can lead to cleaner water and air, healthier soil, and better wildlife habitat, all while improving agricultural operations. You can use the Conservation Concerns Tool to learn about different types of conservation issues that might impact the productivity or natural resources on your farm, ranch, or forest.
The NRCS calls these issues resource concerns and uses the categories soil, water, air, animals, plants, and energy/human. For example, we can look at ways to address the amount of soil lost; mitigate the impact of excess water; reduce the contribution of agricultural operations to airborne soil particles and greenhouse gas emissions; improve the cover, food, and water available for domestic and wildlife species; or promote energy efficiencies for on-farm activities. Check out this more detailed resource concern handbook for more info, and learn how NRCS defines land uses.
Together, NRCS and producers invest in solutions that conserve natural resources for the future while also improving agricultural operations. We can help you apply for assistance through two NRCS cost-share programs: the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP). EQIP is generally a good entry point for producers, while CSP provides ongoing support for those who have already invested in conservation on their land.
The Environmental Quality Incentives Program is a voluntary cost-sharing program that helps producers make conservation work for them. EQIP participants install or implement structural, vegetative, and management practices and NRCS provides reimbursement payments and technical assistance through a contractual agreement. Practices can include: improving irrigation efficiency, restoring pasture, installing season extension High Tunnels, or improving nutrient management. For examples of potential practices, check NRCS Small Scale Solutions.
The Conservation Stewardship Program helps you build on your existing conservation efforts while strengthening your operation. Whether you are looking to improve grazing conditions, increase crop resiliency, or develop wildlife habitat, chances are CSP can help you find new ways to meet your goals with conservation activities called enhancements.
Check out current priority geographic focus areas for funding this federal fiscal year, and their priority resource concerns to help make your application more competitive.
How do I Apply?
Pro Tip! Think at least 1 year in advance for your application
Applications are accepted year-round, but NRCS occasionally batches and ranks applications that meet their fall or spring deadlines for consideration
Read 10 Tips from NRCS on your application