The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is the primary federal agency that works with private landowners to help them conserve, maintain and improve their natural resources. The Agency emphasizes voluntary, science-based conservation; technical assistance; partnerships; incentive-based programs; and cooperative problem solving at the community level.
- Business Type:
- Government agency
- Industry Type:
- Market Focus:
- Nationally (across the country)
More Than 75 Years of Helping People Help The Land
Our goal is not just a sustainable, nutritious, abundant food supply, but also thriving ecosystems that support a diversity of life. In the next century, NRCS will not only continue to tackle familiar challenges like ensuring clean water and healthy soil, but will also rise to meet new issues, such as clean air, clean energy, climate change, and new technology.
Originally established by Congress in 1935 as the Soil Conservation Service (SCS), NRCS has expanded to become a conservation leader for all natural resources, ensuring private lands are conserved, restored, and more resilient to environmental challenges, like climate change.
Seventy percent of the land in the United States is privately owned, making stewardship by private landowners absolutely critical to the health of our Nation’s environment.
NRCS works with landowners through conservation planning and assistance designed to benefit the soil, water, air, plants, and animals that result in productive lands and healthy ecosystems.
- Office of the Chief
The Chief provides overall leadership for the activities of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to help people conserve, maintain, and improve our natural resources and environment. The Associate Chief works with the Chief in planning, coordinating, and directing the activities of NRCS, as well as coordinating the work of the divisions and staffs within the Office of the Chief. The offices that operate directly under the Office of the Chief include Strategic Natural Resource Issues, Legislative Affairs Division, Public Affairs Division, and Regional Conservationists.
- Regional Conservationists
The NRCS organization in its East, Central, and West regions is headed by a Regional Conservationist. Regional Conservationist are management representatives of the Chief and are responsible for providing overall direction of NRCS programs and activities consistent with the Chief's guidance; acting as representatives of the Chief at meetings; and supervising the State Conservationists and the Directors of the Pacific Basin and Caribbean Areas.
The Management Deputy area is responsible for the development of national policies and procedures, as well as overseeing the financial resources of the Agency. This deputy area provides leadership for management services and customer services, human resources, information technology, ethics programs, civil rights, budget planning and analysis. The Management Deputy Area is also responsible for assessing emerging legislation, policy, and operations issues, and continuity of operations, national centers services, outreach and advocacy, including social sciences and alternative dispute resolution. The offices that operate directly under the Management Deputy area include Civil Rights and Financial Management.
- The Program Deputy Area
The Programs Deputy Area is responsible for financial assistance programs, easement programs and conservation technical assistance.
- Science and Technology
The Science and Technology (S&T) Deputy area leads NRCS efforts for science-based technology and technical tools concerning conservation engineering, practice standards, air quality (supporting the USDA Agricultural Air Quality Task Force), energy conservation, nutrient management technology, and other ecological issues. S&T also extends technical expertise to foreign governments. S&T manages the NRCS Conservation Innovation Grants Program and Plant Materials Program. S&T collaborates with the Soil Science and Resource Assessment Deputy area to set NRCS research and technology development priorities. S&T partners with other Federal agencies, Tribal, state, and local governments, and academia seeking best-science technologies and technical tools for natural resources conservation.
- Soil Science and Resource Assessment
The Soil Science and Resource Assessment (SSRA) Deputy area is responsible for Divisions, Institutes and Centers related to soil science, soil survey and resource assessment, technical assistance to foreign governments, and international scientific and technical exchange. SSRA has technical leadership for the use of geospatial technologies (GIS, GPS, remote sensing) in NRCS and for establishing geospatial data standards for the agency. SSRA also conducts the National Resources Inventory (NRI) for assessment of natural resource conditions and trends in the United States. Drawing on the NRI and other data sources, SSRA leads the agency's resource analysis effort to support USDA in policy making for resource conservation. SSRA works in coordination with the NRCS Science and Technology deputy area to set research and technology development priorities for the agency. SSRA also has leadership for NRCS homeland security operations.
- Strategic Planning and Accountability
The Strategic Planning and Accountability Deputy area ensures accountability for performance and results through the integration of strategic planning, budget formulation, operations management, and oversight and evaluation. This includes: establishing and communicating agency direction in the agency strategic, performance and business plans; estimating and requesting resources required to accomplish goals and objectives; ensuring agency operations are efficient and effective; measuring and reporting on performance and customer satisfaction; and providing oversight and evaluation of agency operations.
75 Years Helping People Help the Land
The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) draws on a long history of helping people help the land. For more than 75 years, NRCS and its predecessor agencies have worked in close partnerships with farmers and ranchers, local and state governments, and other federal agencies to maintain healthy and productive working landscapes. The NRCS history website seeks to tell the story of this work. Below, it links to publications on a broad array of topics, significant original documents, and galleries of photos that document soil and water conservation in the United States.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Soil Conservation Service, and the Natural Resources Conservation Service have issued a number publications on the origins and development of soil and water conservation over the years. Many of these publications along with significant primary documents are being made available online for use as a public resource.
The Strategic Planning and Accountability (SPA) Deputy Area supports the agency in strategically improving service delivery, planning for the future, promoting continuous performance improvement, and ensuring accountability.
The Strategic Planning and Accountability Deputy Area consists of three divisions:
- Compliance Division - oversight for internal and external audits, appeals, and equitable relief.
- Resource Economics, Analysis and Policy Division - analysis of agency programs regulations and policies for economic impacts, improving regulatory and policy processes, and compiling and disseminating official agency statistics
- Strategic and Performance Planning Division - strategic plan and performance planning, continuous process improvement, identifying and reporting progress on planned goals and actions
NRCS initiated the Conservation Delivery Streamlining Initiative (CDSI) to implement a more effective, efficient, and sustainable business model for delivering conservation assistance across the Nation.
Benefits to the Nation's Farmers, Ranchers, and Taxpayers
Improving how NRCS serves our customers will benefit our land and producers by:
- Reducing the average number of trips that clients will have to make to an NRCS field office
- Enabling NRCS and clients to finalize conservation planning and decision-making while in the field
- Accelerating the timeline between applying for a program and having a signed contract
- Accelerating the time between applying a practice and receiving payment for that practice
- Offering clients 24/7/365 service for many tasks
Through reduced document handling, reduced decision and approval times, improved access to best-available information and technology, and staffing strategies that are aligned with streamlined processes, NRCS and USDA will benefit from a business model that will enable field technical staff to spend as much as 75% of their time in the field with clients, compared to the 20-40% now often reported.
For all of us, CDSI will result in science-based conservation that is applied in the most efficient way to improve our nation’s air, soil, water, wildlife, and energy use.
For more information, contact the NRCS Conservation Streamlining Delivery Initiative Staff.
Documents and Additional Information
- CDSI Initiative Areas
The information on the printable versions below can be found throughout the pages of this web site.
he Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Civil Rights Division (CRD) places emphasis on Equal Opportunity for the Agency’s employees and program customers. CRD strives to uphold the civil and constitutional rights of all Americans, particularly some of the most vulnerable groups of society. Every employee, applicant, and customer must be treated fairly, equitably, and with dignity and respect.
CRD enforces federal statutes prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, religion, age, disability, sexual orientation, marital or family status, political beliefs, parental status, protected genetic information, or reprisal (retaliation) for prior EEO activity. Unlawful discrimination in any form will not be tolerated.