Financial Assistance Available

State Cost-Share (SCS)

The Benton SWCD participates in the State Cost-Share Program (SCS) which was created to provide funds to Minnesota's Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs) for the implementation of conservation practices that protect and improve water quality by controlling soil erosion and reducing sedimentation.


The Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) has an approved list of conservation practices that landowners can request financial assistance for from the Benton SWCD. Landowners can receive up to 75% of project costs through the SCS program as a reimbursement after practice completion.


Conservation practices approved for SCS include:

  • Critical Area Stabilizationscs well sealing
  • Diversions
  • Field Windbreaks
  • Grassed Waterways
  • Feedlot Runoff Control
  • Riparian Buffer Strips & Filter Strips
  • Sediment Retention Erosion or Water Control
  • Streambank, Shoreland, & Roadside Stabilization
  • Strip-cropping (Contour Terraces)
  • Wetland Restorations
  • Sealing Abandoned Wells
  • Raingardens


For more information, please read the State Cost-Share brochure. If interested in eligible practices please contact Benton SWCD to be added to a list of potential projects when funding is available. Additional information can be found on BWSR's State Cost Share page.


Clean Water Fund (CWF)

On November 4th, 2008, Minnesota voters approved the Clean Water Land & Legacy Amendment to the constitution to: protect drinking water sources; protect, enhance, and restore wetlands, prairies, forests, and fish, game, and wildlife habitat; preserve arts and cultural heritage; support parks and trails; and protect, enhance, and restore lakes, rivers, streams, and groundwater.


The Amendment increases the sale and use tax rate by 3/8% on taxable sales, starting July 1st, 2009 and continuing through 2034. Of those funds, approximately 33% will be dedicated to a Clean Water Fund to protect, enhance, and restore water quality in lakes, rivers, streams, and groundwater, with at least 5% of the fund targeted to protect drinking water sources.

 cwf irrigation

Projects that funding could apply for include:

  • Native Prairie Restoration
  • Shoreline Stabilization
  • Rain Garden Installation
  • Best Management Practices (BMPs)
  • Clean Water Assistance Projects
  • Shoreland Improvement Projects
  • Animal Waste Management
  • Irrigation Water Management


Please contact our office for more information, or visit BWSR's Clean Water Fund page.


Ag BMP Low Interest Loans (LIL)

The Ag BMP Low Interest Loan Program provides low interest financing to farmers, rural landowners, and agriculture supply businesses to implement practices that prevent or reduce water pollution. This program provides loans for projects that reduce existing water quality problems caused by agricultural activities or failing septic systems. The program provides loans up to $200,000 with a maximum interest rate of 3% interest plus usual and customary fees charged by lenders


Eligible practices for Loan Interest Loans include:

  • low interest loan spreaderAnimal Waste Storage Facilities
  • Conservation Tillage Equipment
  • Manure Application Equipment
  • Septic Systems - New, septic fix/upgrades, or replacement of a failing system
  • Wells - Repairs, replacement wells, or water treatment equipment to provide safe drinking water or solve potential pollution problems that effect wells
  • Erosion Control Practice
  • Vegetative Buffers (along lakes, rivers, ditches, and wetlands)
  • Any other practice that improves water quality


Information on this district program can be found on the Low Interest Loan flyer. If interested in applying for a Low Interest Loan, the first step in the process is to contact Nathan Sanoski at the Benton SWCD office. Please visit our Financial Partners page for a list of financial institutions involed with the Benton SWCD Low Interest Loan Program. Further information can be found on the Minnesota Department of Agriculture's AgBMP Loan Program page or their flyer.


Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)

EQIP is a federal program administered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and assisted by Benton SWCD. Although this is a federal program, the priorities for funding projects are a locally led process. Environmental concerns and project ranking for EQIP are determined by a local work group. This prioritization is completed in conjunction with the Water Resources Advisory Committee (WRAC) and other participants. This system provides an opportunity to utilize federal conservation program funds to address local resource concerns identified in the local water management plan.


EQIP provides technical assistance, cost-share payments, and incentive payments to assist crop, livestock, and other agricultural producers with environmental and conservation improvements to their operations. Incentive payments may be made to encourage a farmer to adopt land management practices. This program offers the opportunity to implement traditional approaches but also to use less traditional, alternative practices to protect our soil, water, and related resources.


Elgibile practices include:eqip schneider strip till

  • Irrigation Water Management
  • Prescribed Grazing
  • Invasive Species Management
  • Waste Storage Facilities
  • Well Decommissioning
  • Windbreak Establishment


There are over 60 eligible practices that EQIP can provide assistance for. Further information can be found on the EQIP flyer or the Minnesota NRCS EQIP page. Please contact our office at (320) 968-5300 Ext. 3 for a complete list of practices and more information on this program.


Conservation Reserve Program (CRP)

The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and Continuous Conservation Reserve Program (CCRP) are voluntary programs for agricultural landowners. Through CRP/CCRP landowners can receive annual rental payments based on the Farm Service Agency's (FSA) Soil Rental Rates, and cost-share assistance to establish long-term, resource conserving covers on eligible farmland.


Conservation practices eligible for CRP & CCRP include:

  • Field Windbreakscrp moeller
  • Grassed Waterways
  • Shelterbelts
  • Living Snow Fences
  • Filter Strips
  • Riparian Buffers
  • Wetland Restorations
  • Contour Grass Strips
  • Shallow Water Areas for Wildlife
  • Cross Wind Trap Strips
  • Marginal Pastureland Buffers
  • Duck Nesting Habitat
  • Habitat Buffers for Upland Birds
  • Restoration of Rare & Declining Habitats - Tallgrass Prairie and Oak Savannas
  • Wildlife Food Plots
  • Permanent Wildlife Habitat
  • Tree Plantings
  • Establishment of Permanent Native Grasses, Introduced Grasses, & Legumes


Please contact our office for a complete list of eligible conservation practices and to see if you are eligible for CRP or CCRP. More information can be found on the CRP/CCRP flyer, the CRP SAFE sign up flyer, and the Minnesota NRCS CRP page.


Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP)

CSP is a voluntary program that encourages agricultural and forestry producers to address resource concerns by undertaking additional conservation activities and improving/maintaining existing conservation systems. In simpler terms, CSP looks at the conservation you are currently doing on your farm or woodlot, along with new activities that you are willing to do, and offers conservation payments based on these existing and new activities. Eligible lands include cropland, pastureland, and non-industrial forestland.


Eligible enhancement practices include:

  • Dust Control on Unpaved Roads
  • Wildlife Corridors
  • Recycling Farm Lubricants
  • Establish Pollinator Habitat
  • Continuous No-Till with High Residue
  • Continuous Cover Crops
  • Evaluate Irrigation Pumping Plant
  • Grazing Management


There are over 60 eligible enhancements available through CSP. Please contact our office for a complete list of enhancements and about completing an application. Please complete the CSP Self-Screening Checklist before applying. Additional information can be found on the Minnesota NRCS CRP page.