Arkansas farmers and ranchers who are interested in planning and competing for potential funding opportunities should ACT NOW. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will be utilizing ACT NOW to process conservation applications in some ranking pools to deliver a conservation product faster.
Fiscal Year (FY)2024 Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) ACT NOW allows Arkansas NRCS to immediately approve and obligate ranked applications in a designated ranking pool when an eligible application meets or exceeds the state-determined minimum ranking score. ACT NOW will utilize minimum ranking score thresholds for each ranking pool. This means no longer having to wait for all applications to be reviewed and preapproved in a ranking pool.
“If a farmer or rancher has a pending Environmental Quality Incentives Program application at their USDA Field Service Center, or has never applied for EQIP, this is their chance to ACT NOW,” said Mike Sullivan, Arkansas NRCS state conservationist. “This provides producers an opportunity to update their conservation plan or apply for a conservation plan for EQIP to address resource concerns on their property.”
Arkansas FY2024 ACT NOW Opportunities include:
- AR Seasonal High Tunnel Initiative
- Conservation Practices available for funding: 325-Seasonal High Tunnel
- Minimum Ranking Score Threshold: 100 points
- AR Soil Health Initiative
- Conservation Practices available for funding: 340 Cover Crop, 328 Crop Rotation, 590 Nutrient Management, 329 Residue and Tillage Management (No-Till), 345 Residue and Tillage Management (Reduced Till), 336 Soil Carbon Amendment
- Minimum Ranking Score Threshold: 150 points
- AR Energy Initiative:
- Conservation Practices available: 374 Energy Efficient Agricultural Operation, 670 Energy Efficient Lighting System, and 672 Energy Efficient Building Envelope
- Minimum Ranking Score Threshold: 50 points
Farmers and ranchers are encouraged to be prepared to provide information about their anticipated crop rotation, any soil testing, and other relevant resource information like a nutrient management plan, soil health assessment, and pest management plan, including a chemical list for crop fields you wish to enroll. This preparedness will help to facilitate planning their project.
How to Apply
NRCS accepts applications for conservation programs year-round, but to be included in this ACT NOW funding opportunity, interested producers should contact their local USDA Service Center. Arkansas NRCS will use the ACT NOW process for some EQIP funding pools and projects beginning January 22, 2024, through February 22, 2024.
Applicants are encouraged to work with NRCS and the USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) to complete eligibility requirements at their earliest convenience during the application process and to update all their agricultural records for FY2024. Please visit your local USDA Service Center for additional information about ACT NOW or for information about other NRCS Farm Bill programs. You can locate your local Field Service Center at USDA Service Center Locator.