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Information iconSandhill cranes feed on a crop field at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico. (Photo: Andrea Brophy)

Cooperative agriculture — partnering with farmers and ranchers to meet wildlife management objectives — is a long-standing practice on national wildlife refuges (50 CFR 29.2). Cooperative agreements between the Fish and Wildlife Service and farmers or ranchers may permit grazing by cattle or the growing of grain, hay or other crops at a refuge. The refuge benefits by producing food for wildlife or by improving natural habitat. The farmer profits by harvesting and selling some of the crop. The rancher gains access to grazing land.

Cooperative agriculture is used on refuges only in situations where the Service cannot meet its resource management objectives through the maintenance, management or mimicking of natural ecosystem processes or functions.

How to Apply

Cooperative agriculture agreements on refuges are awarded through an open and competitive process. Each opportunity is tailored to the conditions at an individual refuge and the needs of the surrounding agricultural community. The Service enters into agreements with farmers and ranchers based on their experience and ability to conduct agricultural business under similar agreements and restrictions. The Service works with farmers and ranchers to ensure that all parties meet their objectives.

The Service periodically has cooperative agricultural opportunities available across the country.

Current Opportunities

To apply, please click on the links for listed opportunities or contact the refuge directly for more details. If no opportunities are listed here, please check again in the next growing season.

Applications

Applicants for cooperative agriculture opportunities must complete and submit the Service’s Commercial Special Use Form as well as follow any other application instructions outlined for the specific opportunity. The completed application should be delivered by email, mail or in person to the refuge where the specific opportunity is available.

Information iconHayfields at Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico. (Photo: Adam Kludt/USFWS)