Texan by Nature (TxN) is proud to partner with 105+ conservation organizations working to positively benefit Texas’ natural resources and communities through innovative approaches. TxN accelerates conservation by bringing conservation organizations and business together through programs that connect and convene diverse stakeholders and catalyze science-based conservation efforts and projects to accelerate impact.
Learn more about TxN Conservation Partner, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and how they are supporting resource management and conservation in agriculture.
Q: Tell us about NRCS and its mission.
A: USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) provides America’s farmers and ranchers with technical and financial assistance to voluntarily put conservation on the ground not only helping the environment but agricultural operations, too.
Our Mission: We deliver conservation solutions so agricultural producers can protect natural resources and feed a growing world.
Our Vision: A world of clean and abundant water, healthy soils, resilient landscapes and thriving agricultural communities through voluntary conservation.
Q: What is the history of NRCS?
A: On April 27, 1935, Congress passed Public Law 74-46, in which it recognized that “the wastage of soil and moisture resources on farm, grazing, and forest lands . . . is a menace to the national welfare,” and it directed the Secretary of Agriculture to establish the Soil Conservation Service (SCS) as a permanent agency in the USDA. In 1994, Congress changed SCS’s name to the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to better reflect the broadened scope of the agency’s concerns.
“Land must be nurtured; not plundered and wasted.” – Hugh Hammond Bennett, NRCS’ first chief.
Q: How do you work to achieve your mission and who is your audience?
A: NRCS helps America’s farmers, ranchers and forest landowners conserve the nation’s soil, water, air and other natural resources with free technical assistance or advice for their land. Common technical assistance includes natural resource assessment, conservation practice design and natural resource monitoring. All programs are voluntary and offer science-based solutions that benefit both the landowner and the environment. NRCS offers financial and technical assistance to help agricultural producers make and maintain conservation improvements on their land.
Q: What are some examples of your projects or programs?
A: Through NRCS’ financial assistance programs landowners and/or operators receive incentive payments to implement conservation practices on their land. Previously, an outside partner and local Soil and Water Conservation Districts provided additional incentive payments for conservation practice implementation to encourage greater participation and more conservation.
NRCS provides financial assistance through Farm Bill Programs such as:
- Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)
- Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP)
- Agriculture Conservation Easement Program (ACEP)
NRCS uses Landscape Conservation Initiatives to accelerate the benefits of voluntary conservation programs, such as cleaner water and air, healthier soil and enhanced wildlife habitat. NRCS conservation programs help agricultural producers improve the environment while maintaining a vibrant agricultural sector.
Programs like The Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCCP) work with landowners and agricultural producers to meet conservation challenges collaboratively.
Additionally, NRCS supports agriculturalists affected by natural phenomena with targeted funding. In response to recent wildfires in Texas, NRCS has made funding available through EQIP to assist with the cost of animal mortality and deferred grazing. Affected agriculturalists should apply by July 5. See counties eligible for assistance here.
Q: What are the ecological and economic benefits of your organization’s projects/programs?
A: Benefits of NRCS programs include water quality improvement, nutrient runoff reduction, water quantity use/loss reduced, soil loss prevented, wildlife habitat creation and improvement, soil health improvement, and air quality improvement.
Additionally, NRCS can partner with organizations to leverage financial assistance program funds and promote broader conservation practice implementation and natural resource improvements.
Q: Tell us about the future of your organization. Do you have any upcoming initiatives, exciting events, or challenges ahead?
Here’s a few of our exciting upcoming events in 2022:
- April 22-24: Earthx2022
- May 7: Women in Agriculture Workshop-Wharton
- May 12: Sustainable Forestry & African American Land Retention Workshop
- May 21: Small Acreage-Big Opportunity-Bandera
- June 1-2: Farming for the Future
- June 15: Plant Party #7: Medicinal and Edible Plants
See a full list of upcoming NRCS events here.
Farm Bill Program financial assistance is available yearly. Urban and small farm agriculture is a new opportunity for USDA. NRCS will be adapting conservation practices to provide valuable assistance in helping provide local health, food, and security.
Q: How can people get involved with and learn more about your organization?
Contact Rob Ziehr, Assistant State Conservationist for Partnerships and Initiatives at Robert.Ziehr@usda.gov or 254-742-9888
Texan by Nature is proud to partner with 105+ conservation organizations across Texas. Through our Conservation Partner network, we connect conservation organizations with the resources and relationships they need to extend their initiatives’ impact. Partner benefits include on-going features on social media, monthly media round-up, quarterly meetings, aggregated resources on fundraising, marketing/social media, and more.
All photos and captions courtesy of NRCS Texas.