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USDA Local Food Initiatives

National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Programs

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is working to support communities as they build local and regional food systems.

Here are some programs relevant to this effort that are part of the USDA National Resources Conservation Service

Conservation Stewardship Program

Helps producers carry out activities that conserve or improve the quality of natural resources on their land, such as soil, water, air and wildlife. The program shares the costs of implementing existing or new conservation activities in a comprehensive manner. The sale of "locally grown and marketed farm products" is considered a conservation enhancement under this program.

Conservation Technical Assistance

Helps individuals manage natural resources such as soil, water, and wildlife. This program provides a broad array of assistance, including the conservation planning that must occur before an application for financial assistance from another program is approved, and technical assistance to help individuals comply with regulatory requirements.

Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)

Assists farmers and ranchers in planning and implementing conservation practices that improve the natural resources (e.g. soil, water, wildlife) on their agricultural land and forestland. A practice supported through EQIP is the installation of seasonal high tunnels (also known as hoop houses), which are unheated greenhouses that can extend a producer's growing season while conserving resources.

Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program (FRPP)

Assists with the purchase of conservation easements from volunteer landowners to keep agricultural lands in production. These easements ensure that the land will never be developed out of agricultural uses and provide income for landowners.