Growers have a new opportunity to receive conservation assistance from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). The Conservation Incentive Contracts (CIC) initiative is a new pilot program aimed at addressing drought. CIC is being developed as an extension of the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), offering producers another avenue of support for conservation efforts.
“Growers might be familiar with the EQIP program or even the CSP, or Conservation Stewardship Program through NRCS. So, this is a pretty similar program, but it is additional funds,” said Jesse Roseman, Principal Analyst for the Almond Board of California. “It is limited to four western states that are going through the drought right now. It’s $22.7 million for California.”
The deadline to apply for the new conservation assistance offered through CIC is July 12. Producers currently engaged in conservation activities or interested in certain conservation practices could be eligible for added support from NRCS. “If you have an application with NRCS already, you’re encouraged to call your planner and ask them if your project is eligible for this new funding,” Roseman noted.
NRCS intends to implement the CIC program nationwide next year after piloting the program in California, Arizona, Colorado, and Oregon. Some of the eligible practices under CIC include improvements to irrigation systems, cover cropping, and bolstering pollinator habitat. Roseman strongly suggests communicating with NRCS to work on a conservation plan and potentially take advantage of the assistance being offered. As the program continues to take shape, additional opportunities may become available.
“There are some additional practices that might be included that would help with water conservation and that Almond Board has really encouraged through the development process. Those are whole orchard recycling and also groundwater recharge,” said Roseman. “I know they’re still looking at the list of practices and trying to figure out what’s in and what’s out. Because it is a new pilot program there are still some things that are being figured out.”
Listen to Roseman’s full interview.