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News Release

First Participants in Conservation Stewardship Program Can Renew for Five More Years

­­Annapolis, Md., July 29, 2014 – The first participants of the Conservation Stewardship Program have until Sept. 12 to renew their contracts and make decisions on additional conservation activities that will benefit priority natural resource issues.

CSP is offered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service and is the Farm Bill program that helps farmers and ranchers take conservation investments to the next level.

2010 CSP contracts are reaching the end of their initial five-year contract period and may be renewed for an additional five years where participants agree to implement additional conservation measures.

The program provides opportunities for farmers and ranchers who are already established conservation stewards, helping them improve water quality, soil health and wildlife habitat.

“CSP farmers are conservation leaders and go the extra mile to conserve our nation’s resources,” Assistant State Conservationist for Programs Tom Maorgart said. “The 2014 Farm Bill continued that strong commitment and heightened the program’s focus on generating conservation benefits.”

Since CSP began in 2009, more than 58 million acres have been enrolled in the program nationwide – an area the size of Indiana and Wisconsin combined.  CSP participants boost their operations’ conservation benefits by installing new conservation activities that make positive changes in soil, water, air and wildlife habitat.

 “This program allows landowners to reach the next level of conservation and opens the door to trying new conservation activities,” Morgart said.

CSP helped Maryland farmers John, Andi, and Harrison Rigdon improve the efficiency of their farming operation and at the same time protect the surrounding environment. The RIgdon’s used CSP to test plant tissue from their fields and “fine tune” the exact amount of nitrogen needed to grow a healthy crop and avoid applying extra that could be leached away.  The Rigdon’s also switched to targeted spray applications where automatic sensors coupled with computer controlled nozzles limit sprayer overlaps to reduce pesticide needs by 10-15%. Pastures on the farm benefit from rotating cattle using supplemental feeding areas and salt blocks which result in manure being spread all over the pasture for better grass fertilizer.

To learn about technical and financial assistance available through CSP, visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/GetStarted, the Conservation Stewardship webpageor your local USDA service center. For more on the 2014 Farm Bill, visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/FarmBill.