Do horse farms qualify for USDA Funding?

Head of the thoroughbred horse looking over the wooden stable doors. 

Do horse farms qualify for USDA Funding?

The USDA announced a historic amount of funding recently made available through the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). But what is this funding for and who qualifies?

USDA and NRCS have many programs available to agriculture operators and those living in designated rural areas. These funding programs include grants for sustainable energy improvements (like solar panels), forestry and pasture management plans (time for a pasture upgrade?), and water accessibility (how were you planning to get water to that backfield anyway?).

Operators typically have to produce an “agriculture product,” for horses, this includes breeding products such as semen, embryos, and foals. If you are an operator with a mixed species property, or one who grows crops, food or fiber production also qualifies you.

Funding comes from the Farm Bill and the Inflation Reduction Act. It “will help farmers save money, create new revenue streams, enhance natural resources, and tackle the climate crisis.”

Investment in climate-smart agriculture has been a key goal of the Inflation Reduction Act and the upcoming Farm Bill. The most recent funding announcement will be disseminated through the RCPP Classic and Alternative programs through the NRCS. Opportunities to apply for funding are available to small businesses, nonprofit organizations, and more.

The RCPP promotes the coordination of NRCS conservation activities with partners that offer value‑added contributions to address on-farm, watershed, and regional natural resource concerns. Through the RCPP, NRCS seeks to co-invest with partners to implement projects that provide solutions to conservation challenges thereby measurably improving the resource concerns they seek to address. RCPP promotes collaboration with partners, stakeholders, and various communities, which is paramount to achieving equity in NRCS programs and services.

RCPP is a partner-driven approach to conservation that funds solutions to natural resource challenges on agricultural land. By leveraging collective resources and collaborating on common goals, RCPP demonstrates the power of public-private partnerships in delivering results for agriculture and conservation.

RCPP projects may include a range of on-the-ground conservation activities implemented by farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners. These activities include:

  • Land management/land improvement/restoration practices
  • Land rentals
  • Entity-held easements
  • United States-held easements
  • Public works/watersheds

A single RCPP project application can propose to employ any combination of these eligible activity types as part of an RCPP project. RCPP projects must be carried out on agricultural or nonindustrial private forest land or associated land on which NRCS determines an eligible activity would help achieve conservation benefits (i.e., improved condition of natural resources resulting from implementation of conservation activities).

If you don’t have a project that qualifies to apply for RCPP funding, there may be other opportunities for you! Reach out to your local USDA office to learn more: