The USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service is accepting new applications for the Conservation Stewardship Program. The deadline for applications has been extended to Jan. 21, 2011.
CSP is a voluntary program that encourages good conservation on farm and forest land. Last year, average payment was $6800 per farm. The program is open to all farmers nationwide, regardless of size or type of operation. Eligible lands include cropland, pastureland, non-industrial private forestland, and tribal agricultural lands.
Although CSP is a continuous signup program, producers must apply by Jan. 21, 2011, to be considered for 2011 funding.
Pat Leavenworth, NRCS State Conservationist for Wisconsin, encourages interested farmers to apply now to be considered for funding. "Farmers who are practicing good conservation should act now to take advantage of this great program," said Leavenworth. "If you take the time to sign up now, much of the paperwork can be completed later, and farmers will see the payments for five years, and benefits of good conservation for generations to come."
In Wisconsin, 968 farmers and forestland owners enrolled in CSP in 2010. Over $6 million in annual payments will be made to these farmers beginning in November. The average payment this year is $6800 per contract. Contracts run for five years.
Potential participants can use a self-screening checklist first to determine whether the new program is suitable for them or their operation. The checklist and application form is available online at www.wi.nrcs.usda.gov and at NRCS field offices. Farmers will need to document their current and proposed conservation practices which will be used to rank applications and determine payments. NRCS field staff will also conduct on-site field verifications of applicants' information.