Today marks the official opening of a national pilot program that will compensate farmers and ranchers for implementing high-value conservation practices on their land. Producers have 30 days to apply for enrollment in the Alliance to Advance Climate-Smart Agriculture program. If accepted, they will earn $100 an acre or animal unit to adopt or maintain practices that curb greenhouse gas emissions.

North Dakota is one of just four states participating in the pilot project, funded through a three-year $57-million USDA grant. Participation is limited to seven soil conservation districts in the state with an objective of enrolling 450 producers who are either farming or ranching in Billings, Cass, Foster, McKenzie, Mercer, Rolette, Stark or Ward counties.

The project is limited to 160 acres or animal units per producer for a maximum payout of $16,000 annually.

Nationally, the program is led by Virginia Tech. North Dakota Farmers Union is serving as the state lead, with the North Dakota Conservation District Employees Association and soil conservation districts providing technical assistance for growers. The North Dakota Grain Growers Association is also partnering with North Dakota Farmers Union on producer outreach.

To enroll or learn more about the program, visit or contact your local soil conservation district. Farms and ranches must be located in one of the eight eligible counties to apply. Deadline to apply is March 21.