Farmers in the Milwaukee River Watershed will have two additional weeks to apply for the Conservation Security Program in 2008. The sign-up now ends on May 30.
Originally, the CSP sign-up was scheduled to run from April 18-May 16.
"NRCS recognizes the inopportune timing of this year's sign-up and that farmers are busy in their fields. We want to give them as much time as possible," said Pat Leavenworth, State Conservationist for the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. "We are extending the sign-up as much as possible to allow producers adequate time to gather natural resource information and complete the required self-assessment and applicant interview. This two-week extension represents the fullest accommodation we can make and deliver a program this year."
Some farmers in the Milwaukee River Watershed have already completed their applications. Applications that are accepted will be announced later this summer, with farmers receiving their first payments in 2008. A participant can receive, annually, up to $20,000 for Tier 1, $35,000 for Tier 2, and $45,000 for Tier 3.
Natural disasters—such as excessive spring rains and flooding in certain parts of the country that caused delays in planting—also played a role in the decision to extend the sign-up, which is determined at the national level by NRCS. As a result, many farmers and ranchers had little time to gather their records to meet the CSP sign-up requirements.
CSP, a voluntary program, encourages and rewards producers who practice outstanding stewardship on working agricultural land by offering financial incentives that increase with the level of conservation effort. Soil and water quality are the primary focus of this program; however, program goals also include improved wildlife habitat, air quality, and environmentally responsible energy production.
This signup marks the fourth year Wisconsin has had eligible watersheds since USDA-NRCS first offered CSP in 2004. In the first three signups, Wisconsin enrolled 195,000 acres and 650 farmers from the six watersheds that were eligible in the past. The average first year payment was $6,500 for CSP farmers in Wisconsin, with total CSP payments of $5.49 million for 2007.