Catalyzing Opportunity Through Regional Agriculture Conservation Hubs
The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) makes historic investments in climate-oriented agriculture conservation. CalCAN and NHSPN are working to help reach the IRA’s climate targets of a 40% reduction in agricultural climate emissions by 2030 by focusing on two working lands programs administered by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)—the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).
What are regional hubs?
The hubs bring together farmer-serving organizations from multiple states to share resources and expertise in order to increase access for underserved farmers to the USDA’s agricultural conservation programs. They build capacity in existing organizations and develop a networked workforce of skilled experts who have trusted relationships with farmers and ranchers, supporting them to adopt practices that make their operations more resilient to climate impacts.
Why are they needed and who benefits?
Historically, EQIP and CSP programs have been oversubscribed and best utilized by larger commodity operations that have the resources to apply for the funding. There has also been a decade of disinvestment in staffing and technical assistance resources. Thankfully, the IRA will allow exponentially more producers to participate. However, NRCS lacks the capacity to deliver the funding to new producers, and new technical assistance providers are needed to reach producers who have not historically benefitted.
Building out regional hubs will facilitate regular communication and collaboration and sharing of best practices and resources between participating organizations. This will improve program utilization and increase dollars reaching smaller scale, diversified, organic and underserved farmers and ranchers. Through the hub network, participants will identify barriers and challenges farmers face in accessing and effectively utilizing CSP and EQIP programs, and share them with NRCS to improve program implementation and access.
How do they work and what do they do?
We are building a network of multi-state regional hubs to support organizations that serve small and medium-sized farmers. The hubs will:
Seek to reduce barriers to participation in EQIP and CSP for underserved farmers
Build capacity in existing organizations around the country who have trusted relationships with limited-resource farmers and ranchers
Defend the climate focus of the IRA
Share expertise and advocate improvements in NRCS program delivery
Leverage public and philanthropic financial support
Who is involved?
We partner with non-governmental organizations, USDA NRCS, private philanthropy, state and local natural resource agencies and others who share the goal of building climate resilience on working lands.
The California Climate and Agriculture Network (CalCAN) is a statewide coalition that advances state and federal policy to catalyze the powerful climate solutions offered by sustainable and organic agriculture. This regional hub program builds on the work of one of CalCAN’s projects, the National Healthy Soils Policy Network, a group of farmer-centered organizations in 28 states seeking resources for farmers to implement climate-resilient soil health practices.
For more information and to get involved, contact Amalie Lipstreu, Agriculture Conservation Regional Hub Director, below.