CENTRAL ILLINOIS (WCIA) — The massive inflation reduction program recently passed by Congress and signed into law contains substantial conservation program funding to help farmers comply with climate change objectives.

Illinois State Conservationist Ivan Dozier said the climate and carbon sequestration goals in the Inflation Reduction Act are already part of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service programs.

“Even though its not a conservation bill, I think it is a real recognition. That role we have been talking about, what role agriculture can play when we talk about climate, carbon management in particular, nutrient management, all of those things kind of pull in together,” Dozier said. “When you see a significant portion, I mean we are talking about, the preliminary numbers I saw around $19 billion, we’re talking some real money here, that would come into our conservation programs. And most of our conservation programs go directly out to the farmers to help them offset some of the cost of implementing those conservation practices.

Dozier said Congress allocated the funding for conservation programs that already exist, like EQIP and CSP.

“A lot of these funds will just come into the existing programs, and its mentioned in the bill,” Dozier said. “The Environmental Quality Incentives program that everybody’s familiar with, the Conservation Stewardship Program, the Regional Conservation Partnership Program and then also our Agricultural Conservation Easement Program. All of those are mentioned directly in the bill.”

“Here’s the neat thing about that: the sign-ups are continuous for all of those programs, so we just look for an influx of funding that’s going to help us address some of the backlog, reach out to more farmers,” Dozier continued. “We’re going to see some special things come up too, some special grants, some special announcements. Some of those details are yet to come, but for right now, start thinking about those programs that you know, very familiar with. You can come into the offices anytime, and sign up for those programs, get your name on the list, get ahead of the game.”