April 12, 2017
Iowa farmers who signed up for the Conservation Stewardship Program in 2013 have until May 5 to renew their contracts for another five years. All 2013 CSP contracts expire on Dec. 31. Contract holders can visit their local USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service office to complete the required renewal process.
According to Dave Brommel, CSP coordinator for NRCS in Iowa, 351 CSP contracts will expire at the end of the year, which help treat natural resource concerns on about 162,000 Iowa cropland acres.
Last year, 185 Iowa farmers and landowners renewed contracts. Those contract holders are receiving an average of $10,000 annually in CSP payments through NRCS to adopt additional activities to achieve higher levels of conservation on their lands.
Several updates for CSP program
The popular program may be slightly different from the one 2013 contract holders signed up for. NRCS made several updates to CSP last fall. “These changes help producers better evaluate conservation options that benefit their operations, while improving the health and productivity of their lands,” says Brommel. He adds, “The changes made to CSP are providing even greater opportunities for stewardship-minded producers to participate and bring their conservation efforts to a higher level.”
Through CSP, agricultural producers and forest landowners earn payments for actively managing, maintaining and expanding conservation activities like cover crops, buffer strips, pollinator and beneficial insect habitat, and soil health building activities — all while maintaining active agricultural production on their land.
Benefits to producers can include:
• improved cattle gains per acre
• increased crop yields
• decreased inputs
• improved wildlife populations
• better resilience to weather extremes
CSP is for working lands. Thousands of farmers across the U.S. have made their choice to voluntarily enroll in the program because it helps them enhance natural resources and improve their farming operation from a business standpoint, too, says Brommel.
Producers interested in contract renewals or who want to apply for CSP for the first time should go online to nrcs.usda.gov or visit their local NRCS office.
Johnson is a public affairs specialist for USDA NRCS in Iowa.
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