Conservation Stewardship Program
CSP Fiscal Year 2016-1 General Sign-up and 2012 Contract Renewal Application Cutoff Dates Announced
NRCS accepts applications for CSP throughout the year, but agricultural producers should submit applications by March 31, 2016 to their NRCS office at their local USDA service center to ensure they are considered for enrollment in Fiscal Year 2016.
Participants with existing 2012 CSP contracts that will expire on Dec.31, 2016 have the option to renew their contracts for an additional five years if they agree to adopt additional activities to achieve higher levels of conservation on their lands. Applications to renew are also due by March 31, 2016.
The Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) presents a significant shift in how the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) provides conservation program payments. CSP participants will receive an annual land use payment for operation-level environmental benefits they produce. Under CSP, participants are paid for conservation performance: the higher the operational performance, the higher their payment.
CSP is a voluntary conservation program that encourages producers to address resource concerns in a comprehensive manner by:
- Undertaking additional conservation activities; and
- Improving, maintaining, and managing existing conservation activities.
CSP is available on Tribal and private agricultural lands and non-industrial private forest land in all 50 States and the Caribbean and Pacific Islands Areas. The program provides equitable access to all producers, regardless of operation size, crops produced, or geographic location. The Secretary of Agriculture has delegated administrative authority for CSP to the NRCS Chief.
How CSP Works
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. NRCS accepts applications for CSP at local service centers, Nationwide, on a continuous basis.
The State Conservationist, in consultation with the State Technical Committee and local work groups, will focus program impacts on natural resources that are of specific concern for a State, or specific geographic areas within a State. Applications will be evaluated relative to other applications addressing similar priority resource concerns to facilitate a competitive ranking process among applicants within a State who face similar resource challenges.
The entire operation must be enrolled and must include all eligible land operated substantially separate that will be under the applicant's control for the term of the proposed contract.
CSP offers participants two possible types of payments:
- Annual payment for installing and adopting additional activities, and improving, maintaining, and managing existing activities
- Supplemental payment for the adoption of resource-conserving crop rotations
Applicant: Individuals, entities and Indian Tribes operating agricultural or private non-industrial forest land. Prior to submitting an application, the applicant must be listed as the operator of the land in the Farm Service Agency (FSA) farm records management system.
Land: Producers must have effective control of the land for the length of the proposed contract (5 years). Contracts will include all eligible land in the agricultural operation.
Applicants must meet the stewardship threshold for at least two priority resource concerns when they apply and must agree to meet or exceed the stewardship threshold for at least one additional priority resource concern by the end of the contract. Additional restrictions and program requirements may apply.
How to Apply
The following documents require Adobe Reader. All documents are less than 850 KB in size.
Interested land managers and growers can begin the application process by completing the following steps:
- Complete a Self Screening Checklist (.pdf)
- Verify program eligibility at your local USDA Service Center.
- Submit a Program Application Form (.pdf)
- Submit an operation map, aerial photograph or overlay that identifies your agricultural and/or forest operation and associated acreages.
Once these steps are completed, NRCS will work with applicants to enter information about their agricultural operation in the Conservation Measurement Tool (CMT). The CMT is an online questionnaire that evaluates the applicant’s management and additional conservation activities in addressing all natural resources on their agricultural operation. The CMT determines whether the applicant meets the land stewardship threshold necessary to participate in the program, ranking score, and payments that the producer will receive if he or she ranks for funding.
The Organic Crosswalk
The Act of 2014 recognized the growing interest and support of organic agriculture across the country and required the development of a transparent means by which producers may initiate organic certification while participating in a CSP contract. "The Conservation Stewardship Program's Contribution to Organic Transitioning - The Organic Crosswalk", provides an explanation of how CSP enhancements can be used to assist producers in meeting individual National Organic Program (NOP) rules while going through the transitioning period.
The Organic Crosswalk (.pdf)
CSP National NRCS webpage
Enhancement Activity Job Sheets
- The FY2016 Enhancement Activity Job Sheets are the Same as the 2015 Enhancement Activity Job Sheets.
- Not all of the national enhancements will be available in New York. Please check with your local field office for the New York list of enhancements.
Program Application Form
The following documents require Adobe reader.
CSP Fact Sheet (PDF; 1.4 MB)
CSP Payment Rates (PDF; 244 KB)
Find your local USDA Service Center.
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