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There are a variety of state and federal programs available to provide financial assistance with implementing conservation practices on private land in Madison County. If you are interested in getting financial or technical assistance, we encourage you to stop by the Madison County SWCD office to start a conversation with our field office staff, who can get the conservation planning process started, and can help navigate through the various programs and determine what the project may be eligible for.



The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) receives appropriations from the legislature, and each Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) receives its allocation of funding for voluntary cost share programs at the beginning of the state fiscal year (July 1). The SWCD may also receive supplemental funding at other times during the year.

The Madison County SWCD takes applications requesting cost share for soil and water conservation practices from landowners and producers on an ongoing basis. Field office staff are responsible for conservation planning, developing cost estimates, and ranking applications. Cost share funding is obligated to projects if approved by the SWCD Commissioners (when funding is available).

The main state-funded cost share programs used are the Iowa Financial Incentive Program (IFIP), the Resource Enhancement And Protection (REAP) program, and the state’s Water Quality Initiative (WQI). Other cost share opportunities may be available depending on the practice and your location (for example, watershed project funding).

To learn about Financial Assistance for Conservation Practices provided by the state, click here.

There may also be financial assistance available through the State Revolving Fund (SRF), which provides Low-Interest Loans for Soil Erosion and Manure Management Practices.

More information about the SRF Local Water Protection Program here.


Iowa Financial Incentive Program (IFIP) Cost Share
IFIP provides financial incentives to private landowners to implement conservation practices to control soil erosion on agricultural land. Unless otherwise noted, cost share is limited to 50% of the actual (eligible) or estimated cost of practice installation, whichever is less.

Soil Erosion Control practices that may be eligible for financial assistance through IFIP include:

  • Terraces
  • Sediment Basins
  • Grade Stabilization Structures
  • Grassed Waterways
  • Pasture & Hayland Planting
  • Critical Area Planting
  • Field Borders
  • Filter Strips
  • Conservation Cover
  • Windbreak & Shelterbelt Establishment
  • Tree & Shrub Planting

To view Madison County SWCD’s cost share application for these conservation practices, click here.


Resource Enhancement And Protection Program (REAP)
Since 1990 the IDALS-Division of Soil Conservation and Water Quality has received funding for the Soil and Water Enhancement Account through Iowa’s Resource Enhancement and Protection (REAP) Program, which are distributed to SWCDs, which provide financial incentives to private landowners to implement conservation practices for water quality protection efforts.

REAP Forestry/Native Grasses (F/NG) funds are used to support practices to promote the installation of woodlands, native grasses and forbs. REAP Practices (P) funds are used to support water protection practices which include, but are not limited to, approved storm-water best management practices.

REAP-F/NG may provide cost share for practices including:

  • Conservation Cover
  • Windbreak & Shelterbelt Establishment
  • Tree & Shrub Plantings
  • Forest Stand Improvement
  • Site Preparation for natural regeneration
  • Rescue Treatment
  • Riparian Forest Buffer
  • Prescribed Grazing
  • Fencing Systems

REAP-P may provide cost share for practices including:

  • Critical Area Planting
  • Field Borders
  • Filter Strips
  • Pasture & Hayland Planting
  • Contour Buffer Strips
  • Access Control
  • Restored or Constructed Wetlands
  • Streambank & Shoreline Protection
  • Windbreaks
  • Tree & Shrub Plantings
  • Forest Stand Improvement
  • Site Preparation for natural regeneration
  • Rescue Treatment
  • Riparian Forest Buffer
  • Prescribed Grazing
  • Fencing Systems

To view Madison County SWCD’s cost share application for these Forestry/Native Grass and Water Quality practices, click here.

More information about REAP here.

Iowa’s Water Quality Initiative (WQI)
Iowa’s Water Quality Initiative (WQI) was established during the 2013 legislative session to help implement the Nutrient Reduction Strategy (NRS). The NRS provides a road map to achieve a 45% reduction in nitrogen and phosphorus losses to our waters using an integrated approach that includes point and non-point sources working together. The WQI seeks to harness the collective ability of both private and public resources and organizations to rally around the NRS and to support Iowans as they implement practices to reduce nutrient loss and improve water quality.

More information about the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy here.

WQI provides statewide funding for these practices:

  • Cover Crops
  • Nitrification Inhibitor (first time users only)
  • No-Till or Strip-Till (first time users only)

To view Madison County SWCD’s cost share application for these nutrient reduction practices, click here.

More information about Iowa’s Water Quality Initiative here.

2020 Annual Report on Iowa WQI here.

Programs administered by the United States Department of Agriculture



Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)
EQIP is a voluntary conservation program of the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) that promotes agricultural production and environmental quality. (Note: as of the 2014 Farm Bill, the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program [WHIP] was combined with EQIP.)

This program is available to farmers, and offers financial and technical assistance to install or implement structural and management practices on eligible agricultural land. Applications for EQIP can be made at local NRCS offices.

The EQIP application is based on assistance and decisions reached with producers during the conservation planning process. EQIP applications are prioritized for funding using a state or locally developed ranking worksheet that generally considers cost-effectiveness, resources to be treated, meeting national EQIP priorities, compliance with federal, state or tribal environmental regulations or reducing the need for future regulations and, to a degree, the location of the contract. Funded EQIP applications result in a contract which lists the practices to be applied along with an application schedule and federal funds committed. Conservation practices applied with EQIP funds are to be maintained for the service life of the practice, which may be longer than the term of the EQIP contract. The minimum contract length is one year after the implementation of the last scheduled practice with a maximum length of ten years. The implemented practices are subject to NRCS technical standards. Farmers may elect to use NRCS or a Technical Service Provider for EQIP technical assistance.

Please give us a call or stop by our office for more program information and eligibility requirements.

More information on EQIP here.

Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP)
CSP is designed to help producers build on existing conservation efforts (such as no-till farming and rotational grazing, for example) and take their land management goals to the next level.

NRCS provides financial and technical assistance to eligible producers to conserve and enhance soil, water, air, and related natural resources on their land. Eligible lands include cropland, grassland, prairie land, improved pastureland, rangeland, nonindustrial private forest lands, agricultural land under the jurisdiction of an Indian tribe, and other private agricultural land (including cropped woodland, marshes, and agricultural land used for the production of livestock) on which resource concerns related to agricultural production could be addressed.

More information on CSP here.

Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP)
As of the 2014 Farm Bill, former easement programs including the Wetland Reserve Program (WRP) have been combined into the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program.

ACEP provides financial and technical assistance to help conserve agricultural lands and wetlands and their related benefits. Under the Agricultural Land Easements component, NRCS helps Indian tribes, state and local governments and non-governmental organizations protect working agricultural lands and limit non-agricultural uses of the land. Under the Wetlands Reserve Easements component, NRCS helps to restore, protect, and enhance enrolled wetlands.

More information on ACEP here.

CRPConservation Reserve Program (CRP)
The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) is a land conservation program administered by the Farm Service Agency (FSA). In exchange for a yearly rental payment, farmers enrolled in the program agree to remove environmentally sensitive land from agricultural production and plant species that will improve environmental health and quality. Contracts for land enrolled in CRP are 10-15 years in length. The long-term goal of the program is to re-establish valuable land cover to help improve water quality, prevent soil erosion, and reduce loss of wildlife habitat.

Participants can enroll in CRP in two ways. The first is through a competitive process known as CRP General Sign-up. General CRP sign-ups are announced on a periodic basis by the Secretary of Agriculture; they do not occur according to any fixed schedule. The second way to enroll is through CRP Continuous Sign-up which offers on a continuous basis. All enrollment offers are processed through your local FSA office.

The General Sign-up typically allows landowners to apply to put large tracts of highly erodible land that meet cropping history requirements into CRP. These applications are ranked, and the top-ranking applications are accepted into the program.

Continuous Sign-up is available for practices that protect highly sensitive environmental areas, and include practices such as filter strips, buffers, grassed waterways, wetlands, etc. Because Continuous Sign-up CRP has standardized rental and cost share rates, landowners can see if their ground is eligible and estimate what their payments will be before even applying.

More information on CRP and other Conservation Programs administered by the Farm Service Agency (FSA) here.