USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service has announced that producers interested in their Conservation Stewardship Program are facing an early January deadline to be part of the program's first funding period of 2012.
The Conservation Stewardship Program was developed as part of the 2008 Farm Bill. Darren Moser, Soil Conservationist with NRCS, says the goal of CSP is to encourage producers to undertake more conservation practices on their operation and reward them for what they are currently doing.
Moser explains that producers can choose from a variety of practices to introduce on their operation. He says those that enroll in CSP also receive a nice payment.
"If you're a no-till farmer you're going to get the potential for a lot higher dollars than the conventional tillage type producers, but the average is $18 per acre for five years," Moser said. "NRCS is going to ask the applicant to complete one additional activity, maybe extending filter strips, stalk testing, to lowering boom heights on your spraying, those types of things. Even if you're doing all those there are still things buried into the activity list that you can do."
CSP is available to all producers, however there are some guidelines for eligible operations. A five year contract is required, but Moser feels the Conservation Stewardship Program is more flexible than other past programs.
"The land owners are not eligible for this program, this program is designed specifically for the operators," Moser said. "The great thing about this program is you're not lock into you can't do this tillage, you have to plant 15-inch row soybeans, no you can plant 30. But it's broader than the old Conservation Security Program where you were tied to having to do that every day for the rest of the contract. There is a lot of money invested with this and we just want producers to sign up."
Applications for the Conservation Stewardship Program should be completed at your local USDA Service Center. The program is in continuous signup, however the deadline to be eligible for the first ranking period of 2012 is Jan. 13. Contact your local NRCS office to learn more.