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Technical Assistance
The purpose of the program is to assist land-users, communities, units of state and local government, and other Federal agencies in planning and implementing conservation systems. The purpose of the conservation systems are to reduce erosion, improve soil and water quality, improve and conserve wetlands, enhance fish and wildlife habitat, improve air quality, improve pasture and range condition, reduce upstream flooding, and improve woodlands.

Objectives of the program are to:
• Assist individual land users, communities, conservation districts, and other units of State and local government and Federal agencies to meet their goals for resource stewardship and assist individuals to comply with State and local requirements. NRCS assistance to individuals is provided through conservation districts in accordance with the memorandum of understanding signed by the Secretary of Agriculture, the governor of the state, and the conservation district. Assistance is provided to land users voluntarily applying conservation and to those who must comply with local or State laws and regulations.
• Assist agricultural producers to comply with the highly erodible land (HEL) and wetland (Swamp buster) provisions of the 1985 Food Security Act as amended by the Food, Agriculture, Conservation and Trade Act of 1990 (16 U.S.C. 3801 et. seq.) and the Federal Agriculture Improvement and Reform Act of 1996 and wetlands requirements of Section 404 of the Clean Water Act. NRCS makes HEL and wetland determinations and helps land users develop and implement conservation plans to comply with the law.
• Provide technical assistance to participants in USDA cost-share and conservation incentive programs. (Assistance is funded on a reimbursable basis from the CCC.)
• Collect, analyze, interpret, display, and disseminate information about the condition and trends of the Nation’s soil and other natural resources so that people can make good decisions about resource use and about public policies for resource conservation.
• Develop effective science-based technologies for natural resource assessment, management, and conservation.

Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)
The Environmental Quality Incentives Program provides technical, educational, 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 program provides assistance to farmers and ranchers in complying with Federal, State, and tribal environmental laws, and encourages environmental enhancement. The program is funded through the Commodity Credit Corporation. The purposes of the program are achieved through the implementation of a conservation plan which includes structural, vegetative, and land management practices on eligible land. Five- to ten-year contracts are made with eligible producers. Cost-share payments may be made to implement one or more eligible structural or vegetative practices, such as animal waste management facilities, terraces, filter strips, tree planting, and permanent wildlife habitat. Incentive payments can be made to implement one or more land management practices, such as nutrient management, pest management, and grazing land management. Fifty percent of the funding available for the program will be targeted at natural resource concerns relating to livestock production. The program is carried-out primarily in priority areas that may be watersheds, regions, or multi-state areas, and for significant statewide natural resource concerns that are outside of geographic priority areas.

Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP)
The Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program provides financial incentives to develop habitat for fish and wildlife on private lands. Participants agree to implement a wildlife habitat development plan and USDA agrees to provide cost-share assistance for the initial implementation of wildlife habitat development practices. USDA and program participants enter into a cost-share agreement for wildlife habitat development. This agreement generally lasts a minimum of 10 years from the date that the contract is signed.

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Conservation Reserve Program (CRP)
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 tame or native grasses, wildlife plantings, trees, filter strips, or riparian buffers. Farmers receive an annual rental payment for the term of the multi-year contract. Cost sharing is provided to establish the vegetative cover practices.

Resource Conservation and Development
The purpose of the Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) program is to accelerate the conservation, development and utilization of natural resources, improve the general level of economic activity, and to enhance the environment and standard of living in authorized RC&D areas. It improves the capability of State, tribal and local units of government and local nonprofit organizations in rural areas to plan, develop and carry out programs for resource conservation and development. The program also establishes or improves coordination systems in rural areas. Current program objectives focus on improvement of quality of life achieved through natural resources conservation and community development which leads to sustainable communities, prudent use (development), and the management and conservation of natural resources. Authorized RC&D areas are locally sponsored areas designated by the Secretary of Agriculture for RC&D technical and financial assistance program funds. NRCS can provide grants for land conservation, water management, community development, and environmental needs in authorized RC&D areas.

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Soil Survey Program Information
The National Cooperative Soil Survey Program (NCSS) is a partnership led by NRCS of Federal land management agencies, state agricultural experiment stations and state and local units of government that provide soil survey information necessary for understanding, managing, conserving and sustaining the nation's limited soil resources. Soil surveys provide an orderly, on-the-ground, scientific inventory of soil resources that includes maps showing the locations and extent of soils, data about the physical and chemical properties of those soils, and information derived from that data about potentialities and problems of use on each kind of soil in sufficient detail to meet all reasonable needs for farmers, agricultural technicians, community planners, engineers, and scientists in planning and transferring the findings of research and experience to specific land areas. Soil surveys provide the basic information needed to manage soil sustainability. They also provide information needed to protect water quality, wetlands, and wildlife habitat. Soil surveys are the basis for predicting the behavior of a soil under alternative uses, its potential erosion hazard, potential for ground water contamination, suitability and productivity for cultivated crops, trees, and grasses. Soil surveys are important to planners, engineers, zoning commissions, tax commissioners, homeowners, developers, as well as agricultural producers. Soil surveys also provide a basis to help predict the effect of global climate change on worldwide agricultural production and other land-dependent processes. The NRCS Soil Survey Division through its World Soil Resources Staff helps gather and interpret soil information for global use. NRCS provides the soil surveys for the privately owned lands of the nation and, through its National Soil Survey Center, provides scientific expertise to enable the NCSS to develop and maintain a uniform system for mapping and assessing soil resources so that soil information from different locations can be shared, regardless of which agency collects it. NRCS provides most of the training in soil survey to Federal agencies and assists other Federal agencies with their soil inventories on a reimbursable basis. NRCS is also responsible for developing the standards and mechanisms for providing digital soil information for the national spatial data infrastructure required by Executive Order 12906.

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