Conservation Stewardship Program sign-up period extended

By Whitney Forman-Cook

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, Feb. 23, 2015 - USDA is planning to give farmers and ranchers an extra two weeks - until March 13 - to sign up for the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP).

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The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) issued a news release saying that USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) decided on the extension. Irma Hernandez, CSP Specialist with NRCS, said a press release will be issued later today or tomorrow with the revised deadline.

In a news release announcing the original deadline of Feb. 27, NRCS said some $100 million in grants would be available through CSP this year. NRCS Chief Jason Weller said CSP is a way of “incentivizing farmers, ranchers and private forest managers who maintain a high level of conservation on their land and agree to adopt higher levels of stewardship.”

Producers can sign-up for CSP by filling out a two-page application and delivering it to their local NRCS office. Later in March or April, producers will need to select their CSP options - the enhancements they will make or the conservation practices they will use on their land -- with an NRCS agent.

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To help producers through the CSP enrollment process, NSAC released an updated, step-by-step enrollment guide, called the CSP Information Alert. 

The guide includes a listing of all of the 119 conservation enhancements and 35 conservation practices that enrollees will have to choose from, ranked by conservation and environmental benefit, NSAC said.

“The top-ranking cropland enhancement (option) - the soil health crop rotation - is brand new this year,” according to the NSAC release. Also available to CSP participants are new rotational grazing practices and several variations on cover cropping.

NSAC also published the Farmers' Guide to the CSP, which provides more information on the program and how it has changed over the years.

CSP helps improve resource conditions - including water, habitat, soil and air quality - on working farms and ranches by compensating producers for implementing and maintaining conservation practices on their land.

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