Take conservation to next level with CSP (Keeping the Farm)
(Editor’s note: Genevieve Lister is a state public affairs officer with NRCS-Maryland.)
The Conservation Stewardship Program is a federal program that offers technical and financial assistance to help agricultural and forest producers take their conservation efforts to the next level.
The program is designed to compensate agricultural and forest producers who agree to increase their level of conservation by adopting additional conservation activities and maintaining their baseline level of conservation.
CSP is for producers who are passionate about conservation and environmental stewardship.
CSP is a five-year program that offers opportunities for producers to expand on existing conservation efforts by applying new conservation practices and enhancements.
These new activities will help enhance natural resources and improve the operation.
For example, if you have been planting a cover crop, you may decide to try an enhancement for a multi-species cover crop or implement a deep-rooted cover crop to break up soil compaction.
If you decide to apply for CSP, a conservation planner will have a one-on-one consultation with you to evaluate your current management system and the resources on your land.
This will calculate your “stewardship threshold” which determines your eligibility.
You will then work with the NRCS conservation planner to select new CSP conservation practices and enhancements.
If your application is selected for funding, CSP offers annual payments for implementing these practices on your land in addition to operating and maintaining existing conservation efforts.
Eligible lands include private agricultural lands, nonindustrial private forest land, farmstead, associated agricultural lands and public land that is under the control of the applicant and part of their operation.
There is no minimum acreage requirement.
CSP enrolls your entire operation into the program, not just one specific field or tract.
Forest lands require a current Forest Management Plan.
Annual CSP payments are made once per year for the five years of the contract and have two components.
Base payments help to maintain the existing level of conservation based on the land uses included in the contract (this is based on the Stewardship Threshold evaluation and acres enrolled).
Practice payments help to implement additional conservation practices and enhancements.
A $1,500 minimum payment applies for each of the five years of the contract.
To learn more about the Conservation Stewardship Program, contact NRCS at your local USDA Service Center.
Find a local Service Center at www.farmers.gov/service-locator.