Natural Resources Conservation Service Programs

Conservation Technical Assistance (CTA)

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is the US Department of Agriculture's principal agency for providing conservation technical assistance to private landowners, conservation districts, tribes, and other organizations. NRCS' delivers conservation technical assistance through its voluntary Conservation Technical Assistance Program (CTA). CTA is available to any group or individual interested in conserving our natural resources and sustaining agricultural production in this country. This assistance may be in the form of resource assessment, practice design, resource monitoring, or follow-up of installed practices.
Although the CTA program does not include financial or cost-share assistance, clients may develop conservation plans, which may serve as a springboard for those interested in participating in USDA financial assistance programs. CTA planning can also serve as a door to financial assistance and easement conservation programs provided by other Federal, State, and local programs.
For more information about CTA visit

Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)

The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) is a voluntary conservation program for farmers and ranchers that promote agricultural production and environmental quality as compatible national goals. EQIP offers financial and technical help to assist eligible participants install or implement structural and management practices on eligible agricultural land.

EQIP offers contracts that provide incentive payments and cost-share to implement conservation practices. Persons who are engaged in livestock or agricultural production on eligible land may participate in the EQIP program. EQIP cost-shares 50- to 75 percent of the costs of certain conservation practices. Incentive payments may be provided for up to three years to encourage producers to carry out management practices they may not otherwise use without the incentive. However, historically underserved groups are eligible for cost-share up to 90 percent. Historically Underserved individuals and groups are those who have not participated in or received limited benefits from USDA or NRCS programs. The 2008 Farm Bill recognizes landowners/operators who are socially disadvantaged, have limited resources and are beginning farmers/ranchers as eligible for special incentives for program participation. These incentives may include increased payment rates, and evaluation under special funding pools. Historically Underserved individuals and groups include Limited Resource Farmers, Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Beginning Farmer.
For more information about EQIP visit

Agricultural Water Enhancement Program (AWEP)

The Agricultural Water Enhancement Program (AWEP) is a voluntary conservation initiative that enables the use of the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) along with resources of eligible partners to provide financial and technical assistance to owners and operators of irrigated agricultural lands. Under AWEP, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) enters into partnership agreements with eligible entities that want to promote ground and surface water conservation or improve water quality on agricultural lands.
For more information about AWEP visit

National Organic Initiative

The National Organic Initiative is a voluntary conservation initiative that enables the use of the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) to provide financial and technical assistance to owners and operators of agricultural lands already certified as organic or transitioning to organic. To participate producers must be certified as an organic grower with an Organic System Plan on at least part of their acres, or be in the process of transitioning to an organic system.
For more information about the National Organic Initiative visit

Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP)

The Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP) is a voluntary program for people who want to develop and improve wildlife habitat primarily on private land. Through WHIP USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service provides both technical assistance and up to 75 percent cost-share assistance to establish and improve fish and wildlife habitat. WHIP agreements between NRCS and the participant generally last from 5 to 10 years from the date the agreement is signed.
Scotland County is in the Habitat Project Priority Area (HPPA) under WHIP which allows producers to enroll their farms to protect, conserve or enhance wildlife and plant species of importance to North Carolina.
For more information about WHIP visit

Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP)

The Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) is a voluntary program that will provide financial and technical assistance to eligible producers to conserve and enhance soil, water, air, and related natural resources on their land. CSP encourages land stewards to improve their conservation performance by installing and adopting additional activities, and improving, maintaining, and managing existing activities on agricultural land and nonindustrial private forest land.
Eligible lands include cropland, grassland, prairie land, improved pastureland, rangeland, nonindustrial private forest lands, agricultural land under the jurisdiction of an Indian tribe, and other private agricultural land (including cropped woodland, marshes, and agricultural land used for the production of livestock) on which resource concerns related to agricultural production could be addressed. The entire agricultural operation must be enrolled and must include all agricultural land that will be under the applicant's control for the term of the proposed contract that is operated substantially separate from other operations. The NRCS has made CSP available nationwide on a continuous application basis.
For more information about CSP visit

Conservation Reserve Program (CRP)

The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) provides technical and financial assistance to eligible farmers and ranchers to address soil, water, and related natural resource concerns on their lands in an environmentally beneficial and cost-effective manner. The Conservation Reserve Program reduces soil erosion, protects the Nation's ability to produce food and fiber, reduces sedimentation in streams and lakes, improves water quality, establishes wildlife habitat, and enhances forest and wetland resources. It encourages farmers to convert highly erodible cropland or other environmentally sensitive acreage to vegetative cover, such as native grasses, trees (Longleaf), filterstrips, or riparian buffers. Farmers receive an annual rental payment for the term of the multi-year contract (10-15 years). Cost sharing is provided to establish the vegetative cover practices. CRP is administered by the Farm Service Agency, with NRCS providing technical land eligibility determinations, and conservation planning.
For more information about CRP visit

Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP)

The Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) is a voluntary land retirement program that helps agricultural producers protect environmentally sensitive land, decrease erosion, restore wildlife habitat, and safeguard ground and surface water. CREP is an offshoot of the country's largest private-lands environmental improvement program - the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). Like CRP, CREP is administered by USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA). Through CREP, farmers can receive double annual rental payment for the term of the multi-year contract (10-15 years).

Individuals interested in a Conservation Easement through CREP may receive a sign up incentive of $250 (30 year Easement) or $1,000 (Permanent Easement). A conservation easement is a written agreement between a landowner and the state of North Carolina in which there is an acquired interest in the land to install conservation practices that protect natural resources. The conservation easement exists for 30 years or permanently, depending on the landowner's choice. With CREP, the landowner voluntarily limits future use of the land for activities such as crop farming and development, yet retains private ownership.

For more information about CREP visit

Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program (FRPP)

AnimalsThe Farm and Ranch Land Protection Program (FRPP) provides matching funds to help purchase development rights to keep productive farm and ranch land in agricultural uses. USDA provides funds to State, Tribal, or local governments and non-governmental organizations (eligible entities) to acquire conservation easements or other interests in land from landowners. USDA provides up to 50 percent of the appraised fair market value of the conservation easement.
To qualify, the land must have fifty percent prime, unique, or important farmland soils; have a historic or archeological resource; or have land that supports the policy of a State or local farm and ranch land protection program. The land must also: be part of a pending offer from a State, tribe, or local farmland protection program; be privately owned; have a conservation plan for highly erodible land; be large enough to sustain agricultural production; be accessible to markets for what the land produces; have adequate infrastructure and agricultural support services; and have surrounding parcels of land that can support long-term agricultural production.
For more information about FRPP visit

Miscellaneous Information

Office Hours:
7:30 am - 4:30 pm Monday through Friday