Time is running out for farmers and ranchers to participate in the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) this year. This year’s deadline for producers to apply at their local Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) office is March 31.
The CSP is a voluntary stewardship incentives program that rewards farmers, ranchers, and foresters for maintaining existing conservation and adopting additional conservation measures that provide environmental benefits. CSP rewards producers for improving water quality, enhancing wildlife habitat, reducing soil erosion, increasing 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.
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, but they will not be considered for entry until the following year. To enroll in 2016, you must file your application by March 31.
March 31 is also the deadline by which initial applications are needed from farmers with expiring 2012-2016 contracts if they want to renew them for another five years. Some 12 million acres already in the program are eligible for renewal this year.
To sign up, farmers and ranchers should visit their local NRCS center. To find a local service center visit:http://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov/locator/app?agency=nrcs
To learn more about the program visit: http://sustainableagriculture.net/wp-content/uploads/sites/39/2015/02/CSP-Farmers-Guide-2015-final.pdf