NRCS to invest $50 million in new cooperative agreements for racial justice and equity

The Natural Resources Conservation Service is investing up to $50 million nationally in cooperative agreements to support historically underserved farmers and ranchers with climate-smart agriculture and forestry.

The Racial Justice and Equity Conservation Cooperative Agreements are available to entities for two-year projects that expand the delivery of conservation assistance to tribes and farmers who are beginning, limited resource, socially disadvantaged, or veteran farmers.

“Historically underserved producers face significant barriers in accessing assistance for conservation and climate-smart agriculture,” said NRCS California State Conservationist Carlos Suarez. “The goal of this outreach is for NRCS in collaboration with partners to expand the delivery of conservation assistance to historically underserved farmers and ranchers. Proposals should support activities that introduce the concepts of climate-smart agriculture and assist producers with planning and implementation of conservation practices and principles.”

The projects should help historically underserved farmers and ranchers in implementing natural resources conservation practices that:

— Improve soil health;
— Improve water quality;
— Provide habitat for local wildlife species of concern;
— Improve the environmental and economic performance of working agricultural land; and
— Build and strengthen local food projects that provide healthy food and economic opportunities.

Projects should remove barriers to access and reach historically underserved groups through a combination of program outreach and technical assistance in managing natural resources that address one or more of the following four NRCS priority areas:

— Addressing local natural resource issues;
— Using climate-smart agriculture practices and principles;
— Encouraging existing and new partnerships; and
— Developing state and community-led conservation leadership for historically underserved agricultural producers, including educating and training students for careers in natural resources management.

Who is eligible

Entities and individuals who provide outreach assistance to historically underserved groups are eligible, including:

— Native American tribal governments and organizations.
— Nonprofit organizations.
— Private and public institutions of higher education.
— Individuals.

Historically underserved producers include Native Americans and those who are considered beginning, limited resource, socially disadvantaged, or veteran farmers and ranchers. See examples of how NRCS is working with tribes in California.

How to apply

Applications must be received by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on Oct. 25, 2021.

See the announcement for details and application instructions.