USDA’s National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) recently announced that the deadline for producer applications for the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) has been extended to March 13, 2015.
While CSP is a continuous sign-up program and producers can apply to enroll at any time of the year, NRCS applies a cut-off date for applications to be considered during a particular fiscal year. Once the cut-off date is past, producers may continue to apply for the program, but they will not be considered for entry until the spring of the following year, in this case spring of 2016. In order to enroll in 2015 applications must filed by March 13.
“We hope more farmers and ranchers will take advantage of this extension for the CSP application deadline. To meet this deadline, they just need to submit the basic application form to their local NRCS office,” said Traci Bruckner, Assistant Director of Rural Policy at the Center for Rural Affairs.
According to Bruckner, the Conservation Stewardship Program is a voluntary stewardship incentives program, administered by NRCS, designed to reward farmers, ranchers, and foresters for maintaining existing conservation, as well as for the adoption of additional conservation measures that provide multiple environmental benefits that run beyond the farm or ranch. This program pays producers for clean water, better soil management, improved habitat, energy efficiency, and other natural resource benefits. Since the program began in 2009, nearly 70 million acres of farm and ranch land have been enrolled in the program.
To sign up, producers should visit their NRCS local service center (http://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov/locator/app?agency=nrcs).
Bruckner is encouraging farmers, ranchers and others to call the Center for Rural Affairs’ Farm Bill Helpline to share their experiences, both positive and negative. “We know the previous sign-ups have yielded some great success stories for farmers and ranchers, but also some disappointments and frustrations.”
“We want this program to work for all farmers and ranchers employing conservation-based farming systems, and firmly believe the CSP is a step in the right direction for policy to financially reward historical commitments to conservation, as well as encourage further adoption,” Bruckner continued. “This is a far better approach than paying to clean-up problems.”
“One of the main goals for our Farm Bill Helpline is to identify the strengths and weaknesses of programs such as the CSP,” said Bruckner. “It is only with that information that we are able to push for any needed changes and improvements.”
Producers can also receive guidance for applying for other conservation programs. “Through our helpline you will speak to someone who is knowledgeable about the program rules to help you understand how to participate in the program,” Bruckner added.Share