Date of Award

Winter 12-5-2022


Eric JB von Wettberg

Alissa White

Travis Reynolds

Project Description

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), an agency of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), is the largest provider of conservation incentives payments in private agricultural working lands in the United States. This transdisciplinary and action orientated report is an exploratory guide to the work, efficacy, and potential of the USDA-NRCS in the Vermont context through the perspectives of NRCS staff. The report is built around themes identified from semi-structured interviews conducted with seven NRCS-Vermont staff members. Interviews explored a variety of different topics including natural resource & environmental concerns in Vermont, barriers to conservation and sustainable agriculture, the strengths & weaknesses around NRCS function in Vermont, and suggestions for the improvement of agency function. This report includes 1) a SWOT analysis of NRCS-Vermont, 2) recommendations for the NRCS, and 3) summaries of research themes which include, but are not limited to, the work of the NRCS, administrative burdens, the value of conservation partnerships, farm types under-served by PES programing, and the things clients most value about NRCS assistance— all through the perspectives of NRCS-Vermont staff. Findings are interwoven with complementary background information from other published literature to help provide context for readers and to make the report accessible to a wide audience. This research will be informative to 1) those wishing to learn about the USDA-NRCS and 2) those interested in and/or working towards the effective design and use of NRCS and other agri-environmental and conservation programs in Vermont and beyond.

Project Approach

Scholarly research

Document Type