Diane Baedeker Petit, Public Affairs Officer
413-253-4371, cell 413-835-1276
Next Conservation Stewardship Program cut-off date is June 14
Massachusetts farmers encouraged to contact their local USDA office soon
AMHERST, Mass. (June 4, 2013) – The United States Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service has extended the cut-off date for farmers to apply for the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP). The voluntary program allows producers to go the extra mile in conserving natural resources while also maintaining or increasing the productivity of their operations.
“CSP is different than our other financial assistance programs,” said Christine Clarke, NRCS State Conservationist for Massachusetts. “It offers payments to producers who maintain a high level of conservation on their land and agree to adopt higher levels of stewardship. It’s about conservation activities on the entire operation, focusing on multiple resource concerns.”
Although applications are accepted all year, Massachusetts farmers and forestland owners interested in CSP should apply by June 14 to their local NRCS office to ensure they are considered for current funding.
To apply, visit your local USDA Service Center; locations are listed on-line at http://offices.usda.gov or in the phone book under Federal Government, U.S. Department of Agriculture. General program information is available on the NRCS Massachusetts website at www.ma.nrcs.usda.gov.
Many of the CSP enhancements improve soil quality, which helps land become more resilient to extreme weather. Several other improvements are available for producers, including intensive rotational grazing, intercropping and wildlife friendly fencing.
Because of the extreme weather in 2012, more interest and participation in the cover crop enhancements is expected this year, according to NRCS experts.
Nationwide, NRCS will provide about $175 million in funding for up to 12.6 million additional acres enrollment this year.
A CSP self-screening checklist is available to help producers determine if the program is suitable for their operation. The checklist highlights basic information about CSP eligibility requirements, stewardship threshold requirements and payment types.
For the checklist and additional information, visit the CSP website or visit your local USDA NRCS office.
NRCS works with landowners across the nation through conservation planning and provides technical and financial assistance designed to benefit the soil, water, air, plants, and animals that result in productive lands and healthy ecosystems. In Massachusetts, NRCS has offices in Greenfield, Hadley, Holden, Hyannis, Pittsfield, Westford, and West Wareham, which work with local conservation districts and other partners to serve farmers and landowners throughout the commonwealth.