Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) applications received by June 11 will be considered for the next ranking and funding period. CSP is a voluntary program that encourages agricultural and forestry producers to maintain existing conservation activities and adopt additional ones.
CSP is offered through a continuous sign-up with announced cut-off application dates for ranking periods, similar to the well-established Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).
"Producers are encouraged to apply for CSP now to ensure their applications will be considered for funding this fiscal year," said Renee Braun, District Conservationist for NRCS in Cherokee.
CSP, authorized in the 2008 Farm Bill, is available to all producers nationwide, including individual landowners, legal entities, and Indian tribes. Eligible lands include cropland, grassland, prairie, improved pastureland, non-industrial private forestland and agricultural land under the jurisdiction of an Indian tribe. CSP offers payments to producers who maintain a high level of conservation on their land and who agree to adopt higher levels of stewardship.
Braun encourages producers to use the CSP self-screening checklist to determine if the program is suitable for their operation. The checklist highlights basic information about CSP eligibility requirements, contract obligations and potential payments. It is available from the NRCS field office or on the NRCS Web site at http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/new_cs....
The application process includes entering the producer's current and proposed conservation activities in the conservation measurement tool (CMT). This tool estimates the environmental performance of a producer's current and planned conservation activities. According to Braun, this information will be used to rank CSP applications.
NRCS staff will also conduct on-site field verifications of applicants' information obtained for the CMT. Once NRCS completes field verification and approves the application for funding, the approved applicant must work with NRCS staff to develop a conservation stewardship plan.
For more information about CSP, including eligibility requirements, producers can visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/new_csp/csp.h... or the local NRCS field office.