The next application deadline to be considered for Conservation Stewardship Program funding for fiscal year 2019 is May 10. CSP is the nation’s largest working lands conservation program. The 2019 signup is the first enrollment period following the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill.
USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service plans to invest up to $700 million for new enrollments and contract extensions in FY 2019. The 2018 Farm Bill made several changes to this conservation program.
“CSP continues to be a very effective tool for private landowners working to achieve their conservation and management goals,” says Kurt Simon, NRCS state conservationist in Iowa. “It’s the largest conservation program in the U.S., with more than 70 million acres of productive agricultural and forest land enrolled.”
Iowa continues to be one of the nation’s leaders in CSP contracts. Iowa NRCS obligated about $28.5 million through new and renewed CSP contracts during the past year. In fiscal year 2018, a total of 439 Iowa farmers signed new five-year CSP contracts, helping to treat 23,522 acres. An additional 59 farmers renewed their CSP contracts for five years, which will treat about 30,000 acres.
While applications are accepted throughout the year, interested producers should submit applications to their local NRCS office by May 10 to ensure consideration for 2019 funding.
Changes to CSP program
The 2018 Farm Bill authorizes NRCS to accept new CSP enrollments from now until 2023, and it makes some important improvements to the program. These updates include:
Funds. NRCS now enrolls eligible, high-ranking applications based on dollars rather than acres. For fiscal 2019, NRCS can spend up to $70 million in the program, which covers part of the cost for producers implementing new conservation activities and maintaining their existing activities.
Payment rates. Higher payment rates are now available for certain conservation activities, including cover crops and resource conserving crop rotations.
Organic production. CSP now provides specific support for organic and for transitioning to organic production activities, and a special grassland conservation initiative for certain producers who have maintained cropland base acres.