Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack yesterday afternoon announced $150 million in funding is available through the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) for agricultural producers. During the 2016 fiscal year, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) plans to add an estimated 10 million acres to the rolls of CSP.
“The Conservation Stewardship Program is one of our most popular programs with producers because it results in real change on the ground by boosting soil and air quality, conserving clean water and enhancing wildlife habitat,” Vilsack said. “With this investment, we’ll be able to build on the already record number of acres enrolled in USDA’s conservation programs, enabling producers to achieve higher levels of conservation and adopt new and emerging conservation technologies on farms, ranches and forests.”
NRCS accepts applications for CSP throughout the year, but producers should submit applications by March 31 to USDA service centers to ensure they are considered for enrollment in 2016. Participants with existing CSP contracts that will expire on Dec. 31, 2016 have the option to renew to achieve higher levels of conservation on their lands. Applications to renew are also due by March 31.
NRCS also makes CSP available to producers as an additional opportunity to participate in regional landscape-level conservation efforts including the Sage Grouse Initiative, Lesser Prairie-Chicken Initiative, Longleaf Pine Initiative and Ogallala Aquifer Initiative.
Funding is available for more than 100 kinds of enhancements nationwide to help participants:
A CSP self-screening checklist is available to help producers determine if the program is compatible with their operation.
Applicants will work with NRCS to complete a resource inventory of their land to determine existing and new conservation activities. The applicant’s conservation performance will be used to determine eligibility, ranking and payments.