Friday, May 7, 2010


Agriculture producers could be rewarded for conserving natural resources on their land. The Conservation Stewardship Program, administered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service, encourages producers to maintain and initiate conservation practices with monetary incentives. There is a continuous sign-up for this program.

“The Conservation Stewardship Program recognizes those who are already doing work to conserve their land and are willing to undertake additional activities,” said Jeff Burwell. “We see this as a great opportunity for producers to get rewarded for their conservation efforts.”

The Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) offers two payment types: an annual payment for maintaining existing conservation practices and adopting new ones and a supplemental payment for adopting resource conserving crop rotations. The per acre payments range from $12 to $22 for cropland, $7 to $ 14 for pasture, $5 to $10 for rangeland, and $6 to $12 for forestland. A supplemental payment, available only for cropland, adds an additional $12 to $16 for the cropland rotation.

The payment cap is $40,000 per year with a $200,000 maximum for the five year contract period.

“CSP is voluntary and open to both agriculture and forestry producers,” Burwell said. “When applicants are approved, they work with NRCS to develop a conservation stewardship plan outlining current conservation activities and new treatments for resource concerns on their land”

The first step in applying is completing a self-screening checklist to determine if the Conservation Stewardship Program is suitable for you. The checklist is available at NRCS field offices and on the NRCS Web site at

The application process requires that you
1.) Have farm records established with USDA Farm Service Agency,
2.) Be the operator of the land,
3.) Provide evidence that they have control of the land for 5 years,
4.) Provide a map delineating their entire agriculture or forestry operation.

“This information needs to be in place before an application can be accepted. After it’s accepted, the information is verified before the application is approved.” Burwell said.

Applications will be ranked by estimating environmental performance based on the producer’s current and proposed conservation activities.

After establishing an applicant’s eligibility, NRCS field staff field verify application information. Once the information is verified and the application has been tentatively approved for funding, the applicant must develop a conservation stewardship plan. A producer must treat at least one resource concern and one priority resource concern during the length of their five-year contract.

Eligible applicants may include individual landowners, legal entities, and Indian tribes. Eligible lands include cropland, grassland, pastureland, rangeland, non-industrial private forestland, and agricultural land under the jurisdiction of an Indian tribe. Land enrolled in the Conservation Security Program, Conservation Reserve Program, Grasslands Reserve Program and Wetlands Reserve Program is ineligible for the new Conservation Stewardship Program.

For information on the program, eligibility, or a list of conservation activities, visit your local NRCS office. To find the office nearest you, look for the Natural Resources Conservation Service in the government pages of the phonebook or on the NRCS Web page under “Find a Service Center.”

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