Jan 11, 2017
Conservation Stewardship Program application deadline approaching

The agricultural non-profit Michael Fields Agricultural Institute (MFAI) is urging farmers interested in receiving compensation for existing and additional conservation efforts to apply to USDA’s Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) by Feb. 3 for consideration in 2017.

The theory of the CSP’s design is to both reward farmers for existing conservation and help them improve or create new conservation practices on their land. CSP contracts require a five year commitment with the option to renew. Payments are based on maintaining existing conservation operations on the land and/or implementing additional activities.

Margaret Krome, MFAI policy director, noted that after re-designing the CSP over the past two years, the USDA recently announced changes in the program, including new tools to assess farmers’ eligibility and rank applications, a new minimum payment of $1,500, added flexibility for mid-contract changes, expanded options for enhancements, practices, and bundles of practices, and a redesigned payment structure.

The institute encourages farmers to visit their local NRCS office soon or fill out the application form by the cut-off date. They noted that farmers can also get information about CSP from a Farmers’ Guide to the Conservation Stewardship Program, prepared by the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC). The guide includes enrollment guidance, key definitions, explanations of the ranking and payment system, and helpful hints for accessing the program and is available for free download on the NSAC website at: http://sustainableagriculture.net/publications.

Although farmers can apply for the CSP at any point of the year, the deadline to apply for 2017 participation is Friday, Feb. 3. Farmers who do not submit an application before this deadline will have to wait until 2018 for their application to be considered.


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