For Natural Resource Conservation Services (NRCS) programs there has to be some resource concern before they will let you enter into a contract with them. This could be something like erosion problem or water contamination for agricultural practices. For woodland practices it is usually designed to benefit certain wildlife habitat. It’s not a program designed to help start farm business to be eligible you have to have had over $1,000 dollars in sales the year prior to signing up.
At least in Vermont they are tightening up what they will fund and most states are probably going the same way. An example would be animal fencing. If you don’t have animals already on the land then there is no resource concern to address so no money for fencing. If you have animals on the land and you aren’t already rotating, causing soil problems or allowing them unlimited access to water ways. Then you will probably get some assistance. But you don’t get any money until the practice is complete. So you have to put up cash to purchase whatever materials you are using to plant trees or put up fencing.
There is a bunch of paper work in the beginning which is to be expected since you are going to be getting a large sum of money. Then with each completed practice a NRCS employee will come out to inspect the work to make sure it meets their criteria. This isn’t a surprise inspection you have to tell them the work is done. If you sign up for a nutrient management plan or grazing plan then there will be some record keeping that will need to be done throughout the year then sent to the NRCS once a year.