USDA Accepting Applications for Conservation Stewardship Program

VR LOGO - WEBCOLUMBUS, Jan. 27, 2015 –The U.S. Department of Agriculture will make $100 million available this year through the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP). Applications are accepted all year; however, interested farmers and forest landowners should submit applications by February 27, 2015, to ensure consideration for this year’s funding (applications received after that date will be considered for future funding). The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) administers CSP and may enroll up to 7.7 million acres this year.

“CSP provides an incentive for farmers and private forest managers who already practice conservation on their land to achieve even higher levels of stewardship,” said Terry Cosby, Ohio’s NRCS State Conservationist. “By addressing multiple resource concerns, such as soil erosion, air, and water quality, landowners maintain or increase the productivity of their operations on a more sustainable landscape.”

Cosby said CSP producers are conservation leaders, showing how science based conservation and technological advancements can improve the environment and farming operations at the same time. For example, Joe Celuch, a farmer in Ohio’s Appalachian foothills, fenced cattle out of ponds and streams, installed diversions to slow down and re-route surface water runoff, and developed a rotational grazing system to provide better forage cover in his pastures. This stewardship of natural resources, incentivized through CSP, helps to not only benefit his cattle, but also leads to cleaner water and healthier soil.

The 2014 Farm Bill expanded CSP’s conservation activity list that offers participants more options to meet their conservation needs and protect the natural resources on their land. These conservation activities, called enhancements, include cover crops, intensive rotational grazing, and wildlife friendly fencing.

Farmers and forest landowners interested in submitting applications for CSP should make an appointment with the local NRCS conservationist to complete a resource inventory of their land to determine the conservation performance for existing and new conservation activities. This information will be used to establish program eligibility, rank applications, and calculate payments.
Landowners may also use a CSP self-screening checklist to determine if the program is suitable for their operation. The checklist highlights basic information about CSP eligibility requirements, stewardship threshold requirements, and payment types.

Applications for CSP submitted by entities, such as farmers applying as a corporation, must have a DUNS (Data Universal Numbering System) number and an active SAM (System for Award Management) registration status when applying, a process that may take several weeks. Applications cannot be processed without this information. Information on obtaining a DUNS number and registering with SAM is posted at www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/farmbill.

For more on technical and financial assistance available through conservation programs, visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/GetStarted or a local USDA service center.

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