California Wetlands Information System

Agricultural Conservation Program

Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service (ASCS) and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)


The Agricultural Conservation Program (ACP) was initiated in an effort to reduce soil loss and agricultural contributions to water pollution from both runoff and direct discharge. The program provides cost-share funds for approved practices that provide long-term and community-wide benefits. The practices eligible for cost-share are determined by each county's Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Committee (ASC Committee), and so vary, but they may include: establishing permanent vegetative cover, restoring shallow water areas or developing new ones, and installing water control structures.

How the program works

Landowners indicate their interest in participating in the program during annual sign-up periods designated by the local ASC Committee, usually beginning in September or October. After signing up, the landowner is referred to the Natural Resources Conservation Service, which will send a field specialist to visit the property to determine whether the landowner's ideas for the land can be implemented through the practices approved for cost-share. Once the landowner and the NRCS have developed a project, the NRCS submits a Needs and Feasibility Report to the local ASC Committee. If the ASC Committee approves the project for funding assistance, the landowner is notified and enters into an agreement with the ANRCS. The landowner pays the cost of establishing the approved conservation practices and is reimbursed, as specified in the agreement, for 50 to 75 percent of those costs. The maximum cost-share payment is $3,500 per year.

The ACP program offers both annual and long-term agreements. Annual agreements cover one-time improvements. If the landowner wants to undertake a more involved conservation effort, a long-term agreement can be initiated. In this situation, the landowner and the NRCS work together to develop a conservation management plan, which describes the practices to be implemented and establishes the time period during which the work will be completed. The maximum annual amount a landowner can receive under a long-term agreement is still $3,500, but payments can continue over the length of the contract as each part of the plan is carried out. If the work planned under either type of agreement requires permits, obtaining these is the responsibility of the landowner.


Nationwide. Funding for this program must be appropriated each year by Congress. The state ASC Committee then allocates funds to each county. The program is well thought of on Capitol Hill, and has consistently survived the federal budget-trimming process. For more information, contact your local ASCS or NRCS office, listed under the U.S. Department of Agriculture in the telephone directory.

This page is an exerpt from Options for Wetland Conservation: A Guide for California Landowners, a publication of the California State Coastal Conservancy. To obtain a copy of the guide or for more information about the Coastal Conservancy contact:

California State Coastal Conservancy
1330 Broadway, Suite 1100
Oakland, CA 94612
Phone: (510) 286-1015
FAX: (510) 286-0470

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