Conservation cost share programs help farmers and landowners pay for and implement best management practices (or
BMPs). BMPs are practices, like planting cover crops or fencing cattle out of streams, that address a natural
resources concern, like erosion or sedimentation. There are several cost-share programs, and each one is different
in its focus and eligibility requirements. For the most part, cost-share programs pay for roughly 75% of the cost
of installing the BMP, and landowners pay for the remaining 25%. Each cost-share program is competitive, meaning
applications are ranked objectively, and the highest ranking projects receive funding. Applying for cost-share
assistance is free, and although there is no guarantee that funding will be available, it certainly doesn’t hurt to
Below is a description of the current Cost Share Programs implemented through the Conservation Office:
The Agricultural Cost Share Program (ACSP): This state-funded program focuses on water quality,
specifically preventing sedimentation and streambank erosion on farms. To qualify for this program, farms must have
been in operation for three years, and have a legitimate sedimentation or streambank erosion problem. Popular BMPs
in this program include cattle waterers and stream fencing, drip irrigation for produce farms, grassed waterways to
remediate rills and gullies, and cropland conversion to pastureland incentives. Since 1991, the ACSP has allocated
over $1,000,000 to conservation practices in Cleveland County. In 2013, the ACSP allocated $42,123 among six
different projects in Cleveland County.
Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP): This federally funded program is focused on a
broad spectrum of natural resource concerns. Popular BMPs in Cleveland County include litter sheds and composters
for poultry farms, high tunnels for produce farms, cattle waterers and stream fencing, and organic transition
assistance. In 2013, the EQIP program allocated nearly $200,000 to projects in Cleveland County.
Agricultural Water Resources Program (AgWRAP): Created in 2011, this state funded program focuses
on water quantity. It provides financial assistance for farmers who need wells or ponds for irrigation or for
livestock. If you want to build a pond to go fishing in, keep looking elsewhere, but if truly need a pond for
irrigation purposes then this program may be able to help. So far, $30,000 has been allocated for construction of
two ponds for vegetable irrigation in Cleveland County, as well as $7,500 for repairs to an existing vegetable
Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP): This federally funded program focuses on improving wildlife habitat.
BMPs include native planting warm-season grasses for bobwhite and turkey habitat, planting wildflowers for
pollinator habitat, and prescribed burning and thinning of forests. Currently, funding for this program remains
Community Conservation Assistance Program (CCAP): This state funded program targets landowners and
community organizations to improve water quality. BMPs include rain cisterns for school greenhouses, rain gardens,
grassed waterways, abandoned well closures, and streambank restoration. Cleveland County has received $3,400 to
allocate in 2014.