The Conservation Stewardship Program helps agricultural producers maintain and improve their existing conservation systems and adopt additional conservation activities to address priority resources concerns. Participants earn CSP payments for conservation performance - the higher the performance, the higher the payment.
Sign up for the Conservation Stewardship Program 2016 funding ended March 31, but producers can sign up at any time to be considered for future funding opportunities. Learn more here.
What's New in CSP?
The 2014 Farm Bill increased the program's focus on generating additional conservation benefits, removed the limitation on the number of nonindustrial private forestland acres that can be enrolled in CSP, and increased flexibility to enroll land coming out of the Conservation Reserve Program.
Payment Limit. A person or legal entity may not receive more than $200,000 during fiscal years 2014 through 2018.
Through CSP, participants take additional steps to improve resource condition including soil quality, water quality, water quantity, air quality, and habitat quality, as well as energy.
CSP provides two types of payments through five-year contracts: annual payments for installing new conservation activities and maintaining existing practices; and supplemental payments for adopting a resource-conserving crop rotation. Producers may be able to renew a contract if they have successfully fulfilled the initial contract and agree to achieve additional conservation objectives. Payments are made soon as practical after October 1 of each fiscal year for contract activities installed and maintained in the previous year.
Eligible lands include private and Tribal agricultural lands, cropland, grassland, pastureland, rangeland and nonindustrial private forest land. CSP is available to all producers, regardless of operation size or type of crops produced, in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and the Caribbean and Pacific Island areas. Applicants may include individuals, legal entities, joint operations or Indian tribes that meet the stewardship threshold for at least two priority resource concerns when they apply. They must also agree to meet or exceed the stewardship threshold for at least one additional priority resource concern by the end of the contract.
Producers must have effective control of the land for the term of the proposed contract. Contracts include all eligible land in the agricultural operation.
Additional restrictions and program requirements may apply.
How to Apply
Visit your local USDA Service Center visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/getstarted.
2016 CSP Information
FY 2016 Ranking Period One Program Documents (2015 documentation will be used for the 2016 general and 2017 renewal applications.)
2016 Conservation Stewardship Self-Screening Checklist
Download and fill out the 2016 Conservation Stewardship Self-Screening Checklist (PDF, 178KB)
You don't have to turn it in to NRCS; it's there to help you determine for CSP is right for you. If you have questions regarding the Checklist, please contact your local NRCS office.
Conservation Program Application NRCS-CPA-1200 (PDF, 104KB)
Appendix to Form NRCS-CPA-1202, Conservation Program Contract for CSP (PDF, 104KB)
2016 Ranking Period One Enhancement Activity Job Sheets
"Enhancement" means a type of conservation activity used to treat natural resources and improve conservation performance. Enhancements are installed at a level of management intensity that exceeds the sustainable level for a given resource concern, and those directly related to a practice standard are applied in a manner that exceeds the minimum treatment requirements of the standard.
2016 Nebraska and National Enhancement Activity Job Sheets (PDF, 284 KB)
2016 Ranking Period 1 Supplemental Payment
Documents below require Adobe Acrobat Reader:
A Perennial Grass;
A legume grown for use as forage, seed for planting, or green manure;
A legume-grass mixture;
A small grain grown in combination with a grass or legume green manure crop whether interseeded or planted in rotation.
- Download and look over the Conservation Program Activity List to identify new activities you may be interested in to install or adopt
- "Enhancement" means a type of conservation activity used to treat natural resources and greatly improve conservation performance.
- Enhancements are installed at a level of management intensity which exceeds the sustainable level for a given resource concern.
- Enhancements directly related to a practice standard are applied in a manner that exceeds the minimum treatment requirements of the standard.
2016 Ranking Period One Activity List (PDF, 112KB)
Additional Funding Opportunity Through the Ogallala Aquifer Landscape Conservation Initiative
Operations Baseline Data Questions
To initiate the use of the Conservation Measurement Tool (CMT) during the CSP application process, you'll work with NRCS field personnel to define your Operation Baseline Data. The CMT will use this data, in part, to determine the conservation performance for existing and additional conservation activities.
The documents below are copies of the Operation Baseline Data questions, grouped by land use. You can download and review the questions, and begin drafting responses to start the process before you meet with NRCS staff.
Conservation Measurement Tool Inventory (CMT) Questions
As part of the CSP application process, you'll work with NRCS field personnel to complete your resource inventory using a Conservation Measurement Tool (CMT). The CMT determines the conservation performance for existing and additional conservation activities. The documents below are copies of the resource inventory questions, grouped by land use. You can download and review the questions, and begin drafting responses to start resource inventory process before you complete the CMT in your local NRCS office.
Conservation Measurement Tool (CMT) Scoring Process
NRCS will use the CMT to evaluate CSP applications through a point-based system to estimate environmental benefits. The CMT evaluates existing and proposed new activities to calculate conservation performance points which will be used for ranking and payment purposes.
Conservation performance points are programmed in the CMT, along with all controls, filters, and calculations. A scientific validation of CMT is underway and future modifications to these points may be needed.
CSP Fact Sheet (PDF, 618KB)