Conservation Stewardship Program

The Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) is a voluntary conservation program that encourages producers to address resource concerns in a comprehensive manner by:

  • Improving, maintaining, and managing existing conservation activities; and
  • Undertaking additional conservation activities.

CSP encourages land stewards to improve their conservation performance by installing and adopting additional activities, and improving, maintaining, and managing existing activities on agricultural land and nonindustrial private forest land where resource concerns related to agricultural production can be addressed. Eligible lands include cropland, grassland, improved pastureland, pastured cropland, or nonindustrial private forest land, and agricultural land under the jurisdiction of an Indian tribe. CSP provides financial and technical assistance to eligible producers to address natural resource concerns on their lands.

Check back soon for fiscal year 2015 program information.

Is CSP Right For Me?

Download and fill out the Conservation Stewardship Self-Screening Checklist (PDF, 115KB)
You don't have to turn it in to NRCS; it's there to help you determine for CSP is right for you.

Conservation Stewardship Fact Sheet (pdf)

Maryland Priority Resource Concerns

  • Air Quality
  • Soil Erosion
  • Soil Quality
  • Water Quality
  • Water Quantity

Geographic Area

The program and priority resource concerns are applicable statewide. (map)

Basic Eligibility Requirements

The applicant’s entire operation (operated substantially separate from other operations-determined by equipment, labor, management, and production or cultivation practices) must be enrolled. Applicants must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  1. Be the operator of record in the USDA farm records management system for the land being offered for enrollment.

  2. Have effective control of the land for the 5 year term of the CSP contract. Effective control is defined to mean the possession of the land by ownership, written lease, or other legal agreement and authority to act as decision maker for the day-to-day management of the operation both at the time the applicant enters into a Stewardship Contract and for the 5 year period of the contract. Applicants will self-certify control at the time of application and all contract participants will be subject to an annual random verification process to confirm they have control for the required contract period.

  3. Be in compliance with the highly erodible land and wetland conservation provisions of USDA.

  4. Include all eligible land in their entire agricultural or forestry operation.

Job Sheets

CSP 2014 Job Sheets list the types of conservation activities available to treat natural resources and improve conservation performance.

Payment Structure

CSP pays participants for conservation performance-the higher the performance, the higher the payment. CSP provides participants two possible types of payments:

  1. An annual payment for conservation activities. The annual payment is split between one payment rate for existing activities and a higher payment rate for additional activities. Participants must install at least one additional activity on a land use to earn annual payments.

  2. A supplemental payment for the adoption of a resource-conserving crop rotation.

2014 Payment Rates

How To Apply

Review the Conservation Stewardship Self-Screening Checklist and the Conservation Program Activity List. If you think CSP is right for you, fill out the the Conservation Stewardship Program Application, and turn it in to your local USDA Service Center.

The documents below require Adobe Acrobat Reader:

2014 Conservation Stewardship Self-Screening Checklist (PDF, 115KB)
2014 Ranking Period One Activity List (PDF, 112KB)
Conservation Program Application NRCS-CPA-1200 (PDF, 104KB)
2014 Job Sheets


NRCS Field Offices, located in the USDA Service Centers in each Maryland county, can provide additional details and program assistance concerning CSP eligibility requirements, practices, and payments.

Visit the National NRCS Web site for more information about the Conservation Stewardship Program.

Program Contacts

Eric Hines
Farm Bill Program Specialist (AMA, CSP02, CSP08, WHIP)
Phone: 410.848.6696 x113

Tom Morgart
Assistant State Conservationist - Programs
Phone: 443.482.2927