The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition has released a set of tools to help farmers and ranchers enroll in the Conservation Stewardship Program ahead of the Feb. 27 deadline.
NSAC's two free resources help farmers and ranchers nationwide learn how the program works and navigate the application process: a brief Information Alert with application and deadline details for this year, and the more comprehensive Farmers’ Guide to the Conservation Stewardship Program.
Both resources provide producers with detailed information on how to apply for and utilize the program to benefit their farms, NSAC said.
CSP is a whole-farm, comprehensive working lands conservation program administered by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. CSP rewards producers for the conservation and environmental benefits they produce on their working agricultural lands.
CSP contract-holding farmers can receive payments for actively managing, maintaining, and expanding conservation activities like cover crops, rotational grazing, ecologically-based pest management, buffer strips, and the transition to organic farming.
Details for this year’s program are available in a free Information Alert.
Farmers guide to the Conservation Stewardship Program
NSAC has also updated the popular Famers’ Guide to incorporate changes to the program following the 2014 Farm Bill.
The guide is intended to help family farmers, ranchers, and foresters understand the CSP enrollment process. In addition, it provides clear information on conservation activities eligible for CSP payments to improve conservation performance and environmental benefits.
It provides step-by-step enrollment guidance, key definitions, and helpful hints for accessing the program now that it has been revised by the 2014 Farm Bill. It also includes a detailed look at the program’s use under the 2008 Farm Bill (from 2009 through 2013).
This data section includes analysis of program participation by geographic region, land use type, commodity type, and the top conservation practices and enhancements chosen by farmers and ranchers who have enrolled in the program.
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CSP is a continuous sign-up program, meaning producers can apply to enroll at any time of the year. However, there is but one cut-off date at which point NRCS will rank all proposals on hand, based on environmental benefits, and determine which will be awarded contracts for that year.
Interested farmers and ranchers must submit the initial application to their local NRCS office by Feb. 27 to have their application considered for 2015.
CSP contract holders that enrolled in 2011 are now in the final year of their five-year contract and are therefore eligible to renew for another five years. Initial requests to renew must be submitted to local NRCS offices by March 31.