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14. Beef cattle at Shane Doyle Farms grazing a rye cover crop (Photo Credit Bridgett Hilsh

North Jersey RC&D 


Climate Smart Commodities Grant

Grazing Initiative North Jersey RC&D - Apply through Dec 31, 2023!

With funding from the USDA, North Jersey RC&D is creating conservation and marketing opportunities for grass based livestock producers. This 5-year project is aimed to accelerate the transition to a resilient, equitable, and inclusive agricultural system that builds soil health, improves water quality, sequesters carbon, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, increases biodiversity, and revitalizes farm businesses and regional food systems.  

Agricultural producers in New Jersey are uniquely positioned to tap into over 20 million customers in the New York - New Jersey - Philadelphia metropolitan areas. Not only are a larger portion of these consumers hungry for locally grown and sourced products, but consumers desire grass-fed proteins raised on pasture and by producers who care for their well being. Shortages on grocery store meat shelves, once thought unlikely, became a reality during COVID, further highlighting the need to build food resiliency through local supply chains.


This Grazing Initiative serves to provide agricultural producers with tools to capitalize on these opportunities while building resilience through regenerative agriculture practices and studying the impacts of those practices.

What will Grazing Initiative participants receive?

Financial Cost Share Incentives

Up to $60,000 in cost share funding per producer towards
Grazing Conservation Practices. Cost share = 75% of total
costs (HU Rate 90%).

Customized Business and Marketing Assistance

Up to $30,000 in cost share towards business planning
and/or marketing assistance over 5 years.

Technical Assistance

Receive assistance for pasture and herd management,
rotational grazing plans, nutrient and feed management,
cropland conversion to pasture, and more.

Improved Climate Resilience and Soil Health

Work with RC&D staff and partners to quantify benefits while
building soil health and resilience for future generations.

Program Summary


North Jersey RC&D is looking to enroll 20 grass focused animal operations encompassing 2,500 acres in the central and northern New Jersey area. Applicants can apply now. Our staff will reach out this fall to discuss your application further. Enrollment by 2024 is anticipated. Apply now! 


who should APPLY

  • Wants to join a 5-year Grazing Lands Research Initiative  
  • Current operation includes pastured livestock (beef cattle, sheep/lambs, goats);
  • Willing to work on furthering on-farm grazing, individualized marketing strategies, and tracking overall outcomes (ecosystem, climate, soil health, economic);
  • Located within 7 NJ counties (Mercer, Hunterdon, Warren, Sussex, Morris, Somerset, and Union);
  • Small and historically underserved producers encouraged to apply.



Tell us about yourself and farm; share your intent for applying and desired use for the financial incentives; provide contact information



North Jersey RC&D staff will review your application and reach out to you this fall to schedule a follow-up phone conversation



In-person site visits with applicants will be scheduled by North Jersey RC&D



North Jersey RC&D and selected participants will sign Agreement, Anticipated early 2024

Frequently asked questions

Who is North Jersey RC&D?

North Jersey Resource Conservation and Development is a non-profit dedicated to fostering agricultural sustainability. North Jersey RC&D works throughout Sussex, Warren, Hunterdon, Morris, Somerset & Union counties.  Visit our website,, to learn more about our programs, initiatives, and events. 


How is the project funded?

The funding is provided through the USDA’s Partnerships for Climate Smart Commodities.


Can I apply if I am enrolled in a NRCS EQIP contract or North Jersey RC&D AgAssist agreement?

Yes, in fact we welcome farmers experienced with NRCS conservation practices such as cover crops, fencing, and prescribed grazing. You can have a current or past contract/agreement. This program is completely separate from EQIP and AgAssist, but we will verify that there are no duplicate payments towards specific practice installation. This Grazing Initiative is run by North Jersey RC&D with funding from the USDA Partnerships for Climate Smart Commodities Program.


What is the purpose of the project?

This project aims to increase the viability and productivity of pasture lands to sequester carbon, build biodiversity, and increase financial success through conservation practices designed for pasture-based livestock. Unlike other Climate Smart Commodity grant opportunities that are looking to utilize carbon-based markets for participant payback, RC&D’s program is focused on the utilization of conservation-based physical infrastructure as a means to sequester carbon. With this cost-share-based funding based off of producer receipts, we hope to continue to build and sustain pasture-based livestock operations within Northern New Jersey. 


Do I need to have a resource concern to be eligible for one of the NRCS-based conservation practice standards(CPS)? 

No, you do not need to have an established resource concern to be eligible for a specific practice standard. Included in this opportunity are the following practices, but please note this is a project run by North Jersey RC&D, not the NRCS field offices.   

1) 329- Residue and Tillage Management

2) 336- Soil Carbon Amendment

3) 340- Cover Crop

4) 381- Silvopasture

5) 382- Fence

6) 390- Riparian Herbaceous Cover

7) 391- Riparian Forest Buffer

8) 512- Pasture and Hay Planting

9) 516- Livestock Pipeline

10) 528- Prescribed Grazing

11) 561- Heavy Use Area Protection (as relates to watering facilities)

12) 575- Trails and Walkways

13) 590- Nutrient Management

14) 592- Feed Management

15) 614- Watering Facility

16) 805- Amending Soil Properties with Lime

17) 810- Annual Forages for grazing systems

18) E512A- Cropland conversion to grass-based agriculture to reduce soil erosion

19) E512C-Cropland conversion to grass for soil organic matter improvement

20) E512L- Diversifying forage base with interseeding forbs and legumes to increase pasture


21) E512M- Forage plantings that improve wildlife habitat cover and shelter or structure and


22) E528A- Maintaining quantity and quality of forage for animal health and productivity

23) E528D- Grazing management for improving quantity and quality of food or cover and

shelter for wildlife

24) E328E- Improved grazing management for enhanced plant structure and composition for


25) E528F Stockpiling cool season forage to improve structure and composition or plant

productivity and health

26) E528O- Clipping mature forages to set back vegetative growth for improved forage quality

27) E528P- Implementing Bale or Swath Grazing to increase organic matter and reduce

nutrients in surface water


When does it start?

The application period for this opportunity closes on December 31st, 2023. Then applications will be ranked and reviewed by RC&D staff, followed by phone interviews, site visits, and contracting. During the phone interview and site visits, RC&D staff will look to understand what the participants plan to do with cost-share funding if they are chosen for the program. 

How long does it last?

Five years. Farmers will commit to working with North Jersey RC&D from 2024 to 2029. 


How are the participants chosen?  What the requirements to participate?

We are looking for 20 livestock producers in northern New Jersey. We are interested in producers who currently own and manage livestock, specifically on pasture. Farmers will be evaluated on pasture management, number of species on pasture, and if they meet the definition of a historically underserved producer. Farmers will be selected with consideration given to location and size. 

What is a historically underserved farmer and do I qualify?

Historically underserved farmers and ranchers include beginner, limited resource, socially disadvantaged, and veteran farmers and ranchers. You can learn more and see if you qualify by clicking here.

What if I already utilized pasture for my grazing animals? Can I still participate? 

Yes! If you are already implementing innovative pasture management practices, you can still participate and will be eligible for all the same funding opportunities. 


How much paperwork is involved? 

Participants will need to have records filed with the Farm Service Agency (FSA). Farmers will also be asked to keep records of forage quality, pasture usage, animal health, and product marketing. 

Can I utilize more than one practice?

Yes! Farmers can implement more than one practice on property under their control. For example, a farmer could graze cover crops and get permanent and/or rotational fencing for the same field. 


Do I get to keep the infrastructure after the study is done?

Yes! Any infrastructure, such as fencing or waterers, is yours to keep. 


What if I need help?

Participants will have access to free 1:1 consultations with NJRCD Agricultural Specialists, Grazing specialists, and a grazing cohort. 


If I don’t sign up this year, can I sign up next year?

No, this is a one-time opportunity and the only time to sign up. This is a unique funding opportunity of this size and scope to be available to livestock producers in New Jersey. We encourage you to apply.

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