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Farmers Encouraged to Sign Up Early For CSP

Farmers Encouraged to Sign Up Early For CSP

USDA is accepting new applications for the Conservation Stewardship Program. Cutoff date for CSP applications is Jan. 7, 2011 but you should submit an application now to improve your chances of getting in on next round of funding.

FAQ: USDA is now accepting new applications for the Conservation Stewardship Program. The cutoff date is Jan. 7, 2011. Why should I apply now?

Answer: Provided by Jason Johnson, public affairs specialist at the USDA-NRCS state office in Des Moines.

USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service is accepting new applications for the Conservation Stewardship Program or CSP. The next cutoff date for CSP applications is Jan. 7, 2011.

CSP is a voluntary program that encourages agricultural and forestry producers to maintain existing conservation activities and adopt additional ones on their land. The Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008 (2008 Farm Bill) authorizes CSP, which is available to all farmers nationwide. Eligible lands include cropland, grassland, prairie, improved pastureland, non-industrial private forestland and ag land under the jurisdiction of an Indian tribe.

Farmers are encouraged to sign up early for CSP

Eligible applicants include individual landowners, legal entities and Indian tribes. Although CSP is a continuous signup program, ag and forestry producers must submit applications by Jan. 7, 2011 to be considered for the next round of funding.

Rich Sims, state conservationist for NRCS in Iowa, encourages interested farmers to apply early to be considered for funding. "We realize farmers are busy but if they can find time to visit their local NRCS office now to sign up for the program, much of the background application work can be completed later in the year," he says.

Potential participants can use a self-screening checklist first to determine whether the new program is suitable for them or their operation. The checklist is available online at and at NRCS field offices. After self-screening, the producer's current and proposed conservation practices are entered in the conservation measurement tool (CMT). This tool estimates the level of environmental performance to be achieved by a farmer using and maintaining conservation practices. The conservation performance estimated by the CMT will be used to rank applications.

Once funding is approved, you need a conservation plan

NRCS field staff will also conduct on-site field verifications of applicants' information obtained from the CMT. Once the potential participant has been field verified and approved for funding, he or she must develop a conservation stewardship plan.

In the past year NRCS obligated more than $20 million to Iowa farmers through 1,480 contracts covering nearly 800,000 acres through CSP. That includes CSP contracts in Iowa's selected Mississippi River Basin Initiative or MRBI watersheds. For information about CSP, including eligibility requirements, go to or visit your local NRCS office.

If you have specific questions or need details regarding USDA farm programs, contact your local USDA Farm Service Agency office. You can also get news and information about DCP, ACRE and other USDA programs at

Two Iowa State University Extension Web sites have farm program information and analysis. They are ISU's Ag Decision Maker site at and ISU Extension Specialist Steve Johnson's site at

And be sure to read the regular column "Frequently Asked Questions about the Farm Program" that appears in each issue of Wallaces Farmer magazine and at

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