Under the new Farm Bill, signed into law on Feb. 7, 2014, conservation programs were modified slightly, streamlined and extended to continue helping landowners and managers keep their farms and ranches – as well as the natural resources – sustainable.

"We welcome Latino and Latina farmers and ranchers to come discover the services and programs we offer," says Carlos Suarez, state conservationist for the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in California.

"For over 75 years we have helped farmers keep their soil healthy and fertile, conserve and protect water on their land, protect the quality of wildlife habitat and the air we breathe, keep rangelands healthy, and more."

Today the need to comply with many state, local and federal environmental laws is an additional burden that farmers face, and with which, NRCS can often assist. Services through NRCS are voluntary, free and are not associated with regulatory agencies or sanctions.

Suarez says that last year, in California alone, NRCS provided over $165 million to help farmers solve conservation issues, achieve high levels of stewardship and establish easements to protect farmland, rangeland or wetlands.


"Our technical services are available to all. Projects are selected for funding based on the environmental benefits that will result. Farmers of all backgrounds, with farms of all sizes – and whether or not you own the land – are invited to apply for funding."

In general the funding helps pay for about half of the cost of a project. However, some farmers will qualify for higher rates of funding. Those who have farmed less than ten years (called beginning farmers or ranchers) and those with limited financial resources (defined on a county-by-county basis) may receive higher rates.

NRCS employees will help interested farmers obtain the correct forms to get started.

"You need to invest some time up front, but we have thousands of satisfied customers who agree it is worth the investment," says Suarez.

"NRCS will work very hard to match farmers who need bilingual assistance with a technical expert that is fluent in their language," said Suarez.

Farmers are invited to visit NRCS soon to take advantage of conservation planning assistance and of the new round of funding opportunities that began Oct. 1 with the new fiscal year.

A Spanish-language version of this news release is available online.  end mark

—From the USDA-NRCS news release