FUND-5 (1/31/05 version)
USDA Funding Programs For NPS Implementation

The "Farm Bill" (most recently titled the, "Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002" is a major source of funding for Ohio NPS projects. The Farm Bill covers a wide variety of agricultural programs, including those that are related to water quality protection through NPS project funding.

In Ohio, the primary Farm Bill programs that provide financing for NPS implementation projects include:

These programs, summarized in Table 1, in one form or another, have been available in Ohio for many years, and have become a stable base of NPS implementation funding. Although program emphasis, qualifying criteria, and total funds available may change from year to year, they provide the majority of Federal funds available for NPS project financing in Ohio.

Table 1, Summary of Farm Bill Funding, 2001-2004
Big Walnut
2001 $2.38 M $2.5 M   $201,200 $3.245 M $1,402,034*  
2002 $33.14 M $5.3 M   $255,000 $4 M $1,519,780* $165,865*
2003 $32.95 M $9.4 M $831,201 $310,000 $3.7 M $1,132,460* $322,329*
2004 $35.22 M $12.05 M $1,301,500 $415,000 $3.5 M $1,014,440* $375,270*
* Includes state/local share

The most recent Farm Bill instituted a local work group requirement for certain cost-share programs. The purpose of the local work group requirement is to:

  • bring more people to the table to discuss the need for management measures to address water quality issues;
  • prioritize the areas where the management measures should be applied;
  • assist in developing of county-specific management measures cost lists;
  • assist in ranking the applications for cost-share assistance.

Funds specific to the cost-share program are allocated to counties under the direction of the NRCS Program Manager.

Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP)

  • Purpose: To improve water quality, erosion control and wildlife habitat in specific geographic areas which have been adversely impacted by agricultural activities, with emphasis on addressing non-point source water pollution and habitat restoration in a cost-effective manner.
  • Description: In the western part of the Ohio Lake Erie watershed, the state offers an enhancement of the CRP program which provides increased incentives to install conservation buffer practices in this region. Practices: Filter strips, riparian forest buffers, wetland restorations and windbreaks.
  • Eligibility: Private landowner
  • Contract: A 15 to 30-year commitment is required.

View Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) CREP Information

Conservation Reserve Program (CRP)

  • Purpose: To reduce erosion, increase wildlife habitat, improve water quality and increase forestland.
  • Description: The largest and most popular of USDA incentive programs, CRP provides land rental payments to farmers and landowners who are willing to sign long-term contracts converting cropland into conservation practices.
  • Practices: Filter strips, riparian forest buffers, wetland restorations and windbreaks.
  • Eligibility: Varies by soil type and crop history. Land is accepted into program if bid qualifies. Continuous signup open for buffers, waterways and environmental practices. Periodic signups announced throughout the year for other practices.
  • Contract: A 10 to 15-year contract, depending on the situation. transferable with change in ownership.
  • 2004 Ohio (full field conservation cover) Enrollment by County (PDF 84kb).

View FSA CRP Information

Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)

  • Purpose: To provide technical, educational and financial help to eligible farmers and landowners for conservation practices that address soil, water and related natural resource concerns on their farmland in an environmentally beneficial and cost-effective manner.
  • Description: The EQIP Program is a voluntary conservation program for farmers and ranchers that promotes agricultural production and environmental quality as compatible national goals. EQIP offers financial and technical assistance to eligible participants to install or implement structural and management practices on eligible agricultural land.
  • Practices: Grassed waterways, stream fencing, critical area planting, terraces, manure management systems including storage structures and barnyard runoff protection, and many other conservation practices.
  • Eligibility: Agricultural producers on agricultural land are eligible. Projects are selected based on environmental value.
  • Contract: 5-10 year contracts. Ag producers may be eligible for up to 75% cost-share, up to $10,000 per year and $50,000 life of contract.
  • 2004 Ohio overall (PDF 40kb) and Forestry contract (PDF 37kb) EQIP funding by County.

Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP)

  • Purpose: To restore wetlands previously altered for agricultural use.
  • Description: The WRP is a voluntary program to restore wetlands. Landowners can establish conservation easements or enter into restoration cost-share agreements where no easement is involved. In exchange for establishing a permanent easement, the landowner receives payment up to the agricultural value of the land and 100 percent of the restoration costs for restoring the wetlands.
  • Practices: Wetland restoration and wildlife habitat establishment.
  • Eligibility: Land that has been owned for one year and can be restored to wetland conditions.
  • Contract: Landowners may restore wetlands with permanent or 30-year easements or 10-year contracts. Permanent easements pay 100% of the agricultural value of the land and 100% cost-sharing; 30-year easements pay 75% of the agricultural value and 75% cost-sharing; 10-year contract pays 75% cost-share only. Permanent or 30-year easements are recorded with property deed while a 10-year contract is not recorded.

Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP)

  • Purpose: To develop or improve fish and wildlife habitat on privately owned land.
  • Description: The WHIP program provides financial incentives to develop habitat for fish and wildlife on private lands. Participants agree to implement a wildlife habitat development plan and the USDA agrees to provide cost-share assistance for the implementation of wildlife habitat development practices.
  • Practices: Seeding, fencing, in-stream structures, etc.
  • Eligibility: Almost any type of land is eligible, including ag and non-ag land, woodlots, pastures and stream banks.
  • Contract: Normally a 10-year contract to maintain habitat. Up to 75% of restoration costs, to a maximum of $10,000. Other organizations may provide the remaining 25% cost-share.

Grassland Reserve Program (GRP)

  • Purpose: to conserve vulnerable grasslands from conversion to cropland or other uses and by helping maintain viable ranching operations.
  • Description: a voluntary program that helps landowners and operators restore and protect grassland, including rangeland, pastureland, shrubland, and certain other lands while maintaining the areas as grazing lands. The program emphasizes support for working grazing operations; enhancement of plant and animal biodiversity; and protection of grassland and land containing shrubs and forbs under threathile maintaining the areas as grazing lands.
  • Practices: fire rehabilitation; and construct firebreaks and fences; conservation easements.
  • Eligibility: Each state establishes ranking criteria (to address threats of conversion, including cropping, invasive species, urban development, and other activities that threaten plant and animal diversity on grazing lands) that prioritize enrollment of working grasslands. GRP contracts and easements prohibit the production of crops (other than hay), fruit trees, and vineyards that require breaking the soil surface and any other activity that would disturb the surface of the land, except for appropriate land management activities included in a conservation plan.
  • Contract: 30 year and permanent conservation easements. Easement payments are equal to the appraised fair market value, less the grassland value of the land encumbered by the easement.
  • 2004 Ohio Enrollment by County (PDF 75kb).