USDA NRCS Announces Sign-up for Conservation Stewardship Program
DOVER, Del., October 23, 2012 – USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Delaware is encouraging all producers interested in the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) to apply by December 21, 2012 for assistance in fiscal year (FY) 2013. Funding for CSP is pending; however, producers who have their application on file by the deadline will be considered first for funding, once available.
CSP provides technical and financial assistance to producers to address resource concerns on a comprehensive scale by implementing additional conservation activities; and improving, maintaining, and managing existing conservation activities. Participants are paid for conservation performance-- the higher the stewardship level, the higher their payment.
“Our stewardship program recognizes all types and sizes of agricultural production. The small farmer who applies for a payment to address his operation’s resource concern, is as valuable as the largest farmer’s goal to address resource challenges on multiple fields,” said Russell Morgan, NRCS State Conservationist. “When the common denominator is improving natural resources, like the health of the soil, all are urged to participate.”
Conservation enhancements in Delaware include planting cover crop and cover crop mixes, using deep rooted crops for soil compaction, and leaving standing crops for wildlife, among others that benefit soil and water quality and wildlife habit. Eligible lands include cropland, pastureland, and nonindustrial private forest land; participants must enroll their entire agricultural operation in CSP.
Limited resource, beginning, and socially disadvantaged farmers will be ranked in a separate funding pool to increase participation in CSP. All participants in these groups are guaranteed a contract payment of $1,000 annually and there is no minimum acreage requirement to apply. Though specific payments will vary, average CSP payments to Delaware landowners in 2012 were between $20 and $25 per acre. Landowners working to improve their operation can receive up to $40,000 a year in financial assistance for five years.
CSP is offered in all 50 states, and the Pacific and Caribbean areas through continuous sign-ups. A CSP self-screening checklist is available to help potential applicants determine if CSP is suitable for their operation. It is available from local NRCS offices and on the CSP page of the Delaware NRCS Web site. As part of the CSP application process, applicants work with NRCS field personnel to determine their conservation performance, which will be used to determine eligibility, ranking, and payments.
To apply for CSP, please contact your local USDA Service Center. In Sussex County, call 302-856-3990, ext 3; in Kent County, call 302-741-2600, ext. 3; and in New Castle County, call 302-832-3100, ext. 3. Additional information on all NRCS programs and services is available online at www.de.nrcs.usda.gov.
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