Iron Creek Ranch, Salmon NRCS photo
Voluntary Conservation Stewardship Program Underway
Boise--USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service has started sign-ups for the voluntary Conservation Stewardship Program that encourages farm and forestry producers to start or add conservation projects on their land.
"The Conservation Stewardship Program addresses identified resource problems with a comprehensive approach: we encourage producers to manage or maintain existing conservation activities as well as carry out additional conservation projects," said Idaho State Conservationist, Jeff Burwell.
The program is offered to producers in all 50 states through a continuous sign-up. The cutoff date for the first sign-up period is September 30; another proposed cutoff date will be in January 2010.
“The program is offered to agriculture and forestry producers nationwide through a continuous sign-up,” said Burwell. “To be considered in the first ranking period, producers must submit their applications by Sept. 30.”
“Congress capped the annual acreage enrollment at 12,769,000 acres for each fiscal year nationwide,” Burwell added.
To apply for the Stewardship Program, potential participants can complete a self-screening checklist to determine if the Conservation Stewardship Program is suitable for them or their operation. The checklist is available at NRCS field offices and on the NRCS Web site (http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/new_csp/csp.html).
The application process requires producers to:
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, and;
4.) Provide a map delineating their entire agriculture or forestry operation.
“To be considered in the first round of funding,” Burwell said, “this information needs to be in place before an application can be accepted and before the ranking cutoff date.” Applications will be ranked by estimating environmental performance based on the producer’s current and proposed conservation activities.
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 are ineligible for the new Conservation Stewardship Program.
The program, authorized under the 2008 Farm Bill, revamped the former Conservation Security Program (CSP), improving its availability to both agricultural and forestry producers.
The new program is very different from the old CSP. All contracts under the old CSP will be honored until the end of the contract term.
Agricultural operators with critical resource concerns on their land or who need assistance with structural or other conservation practices can apply for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) or Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP) first, then consider future enrollment in the Conservation Stewardship Program.
For additional information about the Conservation Stewardship Program, including eligibility requirements and the interim final rule, please visit: NRCS Web site (http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/new_csp/csp.html).