Agricultural producers wanting to enhance current conservation efforts are encouraged to renew their Conservation Stewardship Program contract.
Through CSP, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service helps private landowners build their business while implementing conservation practices that help ensure the sustainability of their entire operation.
Participants with CSP contracts expiring on Dec. 31 can access the benefits of recent program changes through an option to renew their contracts for another five years if they agree to adopt additional activities to achieve higher levels of conservation on their lands.
NRCS will mail contract renewal notification letters to all participants whose contracts expire in 2018; the letters will contain instructions on how to apply for renewal.
Applications to renew expiring contracts are due by April 13.
Through CSP, ag producers and forest landowners earn payments for actively managing, maintaining and expanding conservation activities such as cover crops, ecologically based pest management, buffer strips, forest stand improvement, and pollinator and beneficial insect habitat — all while maintaining active agriculture production and forest management on their land. CSP also encourages the adoption of cutting-edge technologies and new management techniques such as precision agriculture applications, on-site carbon storage and planting for a high carbon-sequestration rate, new soil amendments to improve water quality, and forest habitat.
Some benefits of CSP include:
• improved cattle gains per acre
• increased crop yields
• decreased inputs
• wildlife population improvements
• better resilience to weather extremes
NRCS recently made several updates to the program to help producers better evaluate their conservation options and the benefits to their operations and natural resources. New methods and software for evaluating applications help producers see up front why they are or are not meeting stewardship thresholds, and allow them to pick practices and enhancements that work for their conservation objectives. These tools also enable producers to see potential payment scenarios for conservation early in the process.
Producers interested in CSP are recommended to contact their local USDA Service Center or visit nrcs.usda.gov/GetStarted.