NB_440_23_10 - NB 440-23-10 PGM – Fiscal Year 2023 Inflation Reduction Act Funding Guidance for the Conservation Stewardship Program, Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), and EQIP-Conservation Incentive Contracts
NB 440-23-10 PGM – Fiscal Year 2023 Inflation Reduction Act Funding Guidance for the Conservation Stewardship Program, Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), and EQIP-Conservation Incentive Contracts
National Bulletin: 440-23-10  
Date: February 23, 2023
Subject: PGM – Fiscal Year 2023 Inflation Reduction Act Funding Guidance for the Conservation Stewardship Program, Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), and EQIP-Conservation Incentive Contracts 

Action Required By:   September 15, 2023  
Purpose.   This national bulletin provides state conservationists (STCs) and Caribbean and Pacific Islands area directors with guidance and established deadlines for accepting and evaluating applications and completing contract obligations for fiscal year (FY) 2023 Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) funds to be implemented through the Conservation Stewardship Program (IRA-CSP), Environmental Quality Incentives Program (IRA-EQIP), and EQIP-Conservation Incentive Contracts (IRA-EQIP-CIC).  
Expiration Date.   September 30, 2023  
Background.   The IRA provides assistance to agricultural and forestland producers to invest in climate and clean energy solutions and promote climate-related benefits through NRCS programs.        

States must use the guidance in this bulletin, along with policy in the National Planning Procedures Handbook; 440 CPM 502, “Terms and Abbreviations Common to All Programs;” 440 CPM 530, “Working Lands Conservation Program Manual;” NI 440-310, “NRCS Program Ranking through Conservation Assessment Ranking Tool (CART);” the IRA State Allocation letter; and training to prepare for and announce program opportunities, complete assessments, accept and process applications, and evaluate requests for funding.

IRA guidance for the Regional Conservation Partnership Program will be provided in a separate directive.

Follow 440 CPM 530 policy, including the newly added subpart M, “Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) – Funded Contracts,” for additional guidance on IRA-funded contract obligations.

All FY 2023 IRA contracts must be obligated by September 15, 2023.

Sign-up announcements and application cutoff deadlines.  States must notify the public of the IRA application period in accordance with 440 CPM § 530.12, “Funding Preparation Activities.”

·        Follow 440 CPM § 530.5, “Information, Outreach, and Training,” to ensure potential program participants are aware of, understand, and have access to conservation programs and services.

·        The NRCS Priority Data Layer Web Application may be used to identify priority areas within the state for outreach efforts (e.g., urban, historically underserved/socially disadvantaged, Climate-Smart Agriculture and Forestry (CSAF), etc.). States must update state websites in accordance with 440 CPM § 530.12, “Funding Preparation Activities."

·        States may announce sign-up cutoff dates prior to receiving the program allocations but must not preapprove applications until funds are available and preparation activities have been completed.

·        States are encouraged to set internal milestones for application processing and obligations to ensure national deadlines are met.

Fund Management and Targets.  National Headquarter (NHQ) will provide annual financial assistance (FA) and technical assistance (TA) instructions to STCs and directors through the FY 2023 IRA State Allocation letter.  IRA state allocations are anticipated to be released in the second quarter of FY 2023.

During FY 2023, IRA funding is available for EQIP, EQIP-CIC, and CSP-Classic.  IRA funds may also be used to support EQIP and CSP alternative funding arrangements (AFA).  If needed, states may request additional funds to support an AFA that exceeds the initial IRA allocation. See 440 CPM 530, subpart L, for guidance on AFAs.

IRA funds cannot be combined with any other USDA program funds within a contract.  States should emphasize to IRA participants the requirement to complete all activities by September 30, 2031. See 440 CPM § 530.121 and 530.123 for additional guidance.

IRA payments will count toward program-specific payment limitations as described in 440 CPM 530, subpart M.

The requirement to target EQIP funds toward livestock-related practices does not apply to IRA funds.  All other program-specific funding targets apply and may be achieved with either IRA funds, non-IRA funds, or a combination of both (see 440 CPM § 530.121).

CART Ranking Pools, ProTracts Subaccounts, and Spending Plans.  For FY 2023, states will offer and create IRA spending plans and ranking pools for both CSP and EQIP.  States may choose to establish spending plans and ranking pools for EQIP-CIC (see 440 CPM § 530.121).

·        States must establish subaccounts in ProTracts with corresponding ranking pools in CART.  States are encouraged to use “IRA” when naming subaccounts and ranking pools.

·        All IRA subaccounts must use the subaccount type of “IRA.”

·        To create state ranking pools, use guidance provided in NI 440-310, exhibits H, Q, and CM.

o   For IRA-CSP and IRA-EQIP, use the IRA ranking templates located on the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) SharePoint site.

o   For IRA-EQIP-CIC, use the EQIP-CIC ranking template in NI 440-310, exhibit CN.

Application Processing.  See 440 CPM 530, subpart D, “Application Processing,” for guidance on planning, screening, assessing, and ranking requests for assistance.

·        Enter IRA-CSP, IRA-EQIP, and IRA-EQIP-CIC applications into ProTracts.

·        Applications selected for IRA funding in the Select Application Tool must have the IRA radio button on the ProTracts application page set to “Yes” before the application is promoted to preapproved status in ProTracts.  This selection may be changed in pending, eligible, or preapproved status. Users may not change this selection for approved applications or obligated contracts.

·        States must notify participants that their application has been approved using the “IRA Application Approval Letter” (440 CPM 530, exhibit 530.129(B)).

Note:  Application types “Organic,” “Plan-Organic,” and “OTI” must not be used for IRA because they have specific funding requirements that conflict with IRA funding requirements.

Contract Development and Requirements.  Follow contract development guidance in 440 CPM 530, subparts E and M.

EQIP and CSP contracts using IRA funds must include one or more core conservation practices or activities identified in the Climate-Smart Agriculture and Forestry (CSAF) Mitigation Activities List FY2023 (attachment A).

Associated facilitating practices or activities that directly support core practices or activities may be included in the contract and receive payment.  An IRA-funded contract may not contain only facilitating practices or activities.  See 440 CPM § 530.120 and 530.123.

Preobligation checklists have been updated to include IRA requirements. States must use the updated program-specific preobligation checklists that include the new IRA section.

Follow 440 CPM § 530.123 for the IRA addendum requirement and contract period of performance.

States should maintain a copy of attachment A in the participant’s file for future reference.


(1)  See 440 CPM 530, subpart R, for program-specific requirements.

(2)  EQIP ranking will follow EQIP ranking guidance in NI 440-310.

B.    IRA-CSP Classic

(1)  See 440 CPM 530, subpart Q, for program-specific requirements.

(2)  Areas within the state that historically have had high participation with climate-smart practices should be targeted for IRA funding.

C.    EQIP Conservation Incentive Contracts (IRA-EQIP-CIC)


(1)  See 440 CPM § 530.408, “EQIP Conservation Incentive Contracts,” and the IRA SharePoint for additional training materials and IRA-EQIP-CIC guidance.

(2)  No more than 20 percent of the state’s total IRA funds may be allocated to EQIP-CIC.

(3)  States must establish high priority areas, priority resource concerns, and eligible land uses in accordance with 440 CPM § 530.408.

(4)  States must choose the “IRA” subaccount type in ProTracts; all applications for EQIP-CIC must use the “Incentive” application type. Subaccount names for IRA-EQIP-CIC must start with “IRA-EQIP-CIC.”

(5)  States must use the EQIP-CIC ranking template in NI 440-310, exhibit CN, for IRA-EQIP-CIC.  IRA-EQIP-CIC eligible core practices and activities are a subset of the IRA-EQIP eligible core practices.  Only CSAF core practices can be planned for IRA-EQIP-CIC contracts.  Facilitating or supporting practices can be contracted if they are linked to an eligible core practice.

Expedited and Streamlined Sign-up.  ACT NOW provides states the option to hold streamlined, targeted ranking-to-funding processes.

If used, states should develop simple ACT NOW ranking pools that focus on one clear objective per pool and contain a limited number of ranking questions to expedite funding.  Planning needs for the offered practices or activities should not be complex. See 440 CPM § 530.37 for additional guidance.

Funding Assessments.  State requests for additional IRA FA and TA funds must be submitted through the Funds Assessment Request tool.  States should ensure that internal deadlines allow the funds to be used by the nationally established obligation deadlines.  NHQ will evaluate the status of IRA FA obligations, departmental and agency priorities, funding targets, and other criteria, when assessing state requests.  Final fund request deadlines will be announced in the future.

States that are unable to use their entire IRA allocations must return excess FA and associated TA funds as soon as possible to allow for redistribution to other states.  See the FY 2023 State Advisory Full Year Allocations letter for the program TA return rates.

States must use the FMMI Allotment Planning and Management tool to return FA and TA funds.  All unused funds must be returned by June 30, 2023.


Submit questions related to this bulletin through the appropriate state contact to the FAPD SharePoint-Program Questions site.



Deputy Chief for Programs

Attachment A: Climate Smart Agriculture and Forestry (CSAF) Mitigation Activities FY 2023 Enter attachment> (opt)     
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