USDA to Invest $150 Million in Conservation Stewardship Program to
Help Improve Working Lands
NRCS Now Accepting New and Renewal Options for Producers with Expiring Contracts
USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is now accepting applications for the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP). Applications will be accepted throughout the year, however, producers should submit new or renewal applications by March 31 to their local NRCS field offices 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 for an additional five years if they agree to adopt additional activities to achieve higher levels of conservation on their lands.
"Nationally, USDA NRCS has committed $150 million in funding for agricultural producers through CSP," said Clint Evans, NRCS State Conservationist for Colorado. "Accordingly, NRCS plans to add an estimated 10 million acres into the program during fiscal year 2016."
CSP is one of the most popular and largest conservation programs within USDA that helps producers voluntarily improve the health and productivity of private and Tribal working lands. The program is managed and administered by the NRCS which 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, Ogallala Aquifer Initiative and others.
Funding is available for more than 100 kinds of enhancements nationwide to help participants:
- Improve soil quality through use of cover crops, conservation crop rotations and other activities that increase soil productivity.
- Use water wisely and improve water quality through enhancements such as more efficient irrigation systems and weather monitoring.
- Restore habitat for wildlife and pollinators such as the greater sage-grouse, lesser prairie-chicken and monarch butterfly through the use of better grazing systems and improved plant management.
A CSP self-screening checklist is available to help producers determine if the program is compatible with their operation. As part of the application process, applicants will work with NRCS field personnel to complete a resource inventory of their land to determine the conservation performance for existing and new conservation activities. The applicant's conservation performance will be used to determine eligibility, ranking and payments.
Since 2009, USDA has provided $4 billion in CSP funding resulting in the NRCS providing technical and financial assistance to farmers, ranchers and forest managers to enhance conservation on more than 70 million acres. For more information about NRCS, the technical and financial assistance available through its conservation programs, please visit www.co.nrcs.usda.gov.