The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) announced that funds will be available this year through the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) and although applications are accepted all year, agricultural producers and private forest landowners should submit applications by March 31, 2016 to ensure they are considered for this year’s funding. Applications received after that date will be considered for future funding.
“CSP offers an incentive for agricultural producers and private forest landowners who maintain a high level of conservation on their land and agree to adopt higher levels of stewardship,” said Ivan Dozier, State Conservationist of NRCS. “By focusing on multiple resource concerns, producers can achieve a sustainable landscape and maintain or increase the productivity of their operation.”
Through CSP, participants take additional conservation steps to improve the resource conditions on their land, including soil, air and habitat quality, water quality and quantity, and energy conservation. According to Dozier, CSP producers are conservation leaders, showing how science-based conservation and technological advancements can improve the environment and farming operations at the same time.
CSP offers agricultural producers and private forest landowners a variety of options to meet conservation needs and address natural resource issues on their land through conservation activities. Conservation activities, which include practices and enhancements to practices, include planting cover crops, implementing intensive rotational grazing and prairie restoration, among others.
Producers should submit applications to their local NRCS office. As part of the CSP application process, applicants will work with NRCS field personnel to complete a resource inventory of their land, which helps determine the conservation performance for existing and new conservation activities. The applicant's conservation performance will be used to determine eligibility, ranking, and payments.
Producers can use the CSP self-screening checklist to learn if the program is suitable for their operation. The checklist highlights basic information about CSP eligibility requirements, stewardship threshold requirements, and different payment types. For more details on technical and financial assistance available through NRCS conservation programs, visit, http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/il/programs/financial/ or a local USDA service center.