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Conservation Stewardship Program


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Sign Up for E-mail updates on CSP and other NRCS Programs

For information on the Conservation Security program, click here.

Apply for 2015-1 CSP Now!  General Sign Up Application Deadline has been extended.  New Application Deadline is March 13, 2015.
Apply at your Local Service Center.

CSP Renewal Application Deadline is March 31, 2015.
        2011 CSP Contracts may be renewed for an additional 5 years.

 * Documents on this page will require Adobe Acrobat.

Read the Payment for Performance Fact Sheet and the Conservation Stewardship Program Fact Sheet for highlights about current program facts.


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

  • Improving, maintaining, and managing existing conservation activities; and

  • Undertaking additional conservation activities.

CSP is available in Pennsylvania on private agricultural lands and non-industrial forest land. The program provides equitable access to all producers, regardless of operation size, crops produced, or geographic location.

Program Description

Picture of a farmThrough CSP, NRCS will provide financial and technical assistance to eligible producers to conserve and enhance soil, water, air, and related natural resources on their land. Eligible lands include cropland, grassland, improved pastureland, nonindustrial private forest lands, and other private agricultural land (including cropped woodland, marshes, and agricultural land used for the production of livestock) on which resource concerns related to agricultural production could be addressed. Participation in the program is voluntary.

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. CSP is available nationwide on a continuous application 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 Pennsylvania, or specific geographic areas within the State.  Click here to view the map. Applications will be evaluated relative to other applications addressing similar priority resource concerns to facilitate a competitive ranking process among applicants who face similar resource challenges. Because of acreage and funding limits, not all applicants may be offered a contract.

The entire agricultural operation must be enrolled and must include all agricultural land that will be under the applicant's control for the five-year term of the proposed contract.

CSP offers participants two possible types of payments:

  1. Annual payment for installing and adopting additional activities, and improving, maintaining, and managing existing activities
  2. Supplemental payment for the adoption of resource-conserving crop rotations.

Priority Resource Concerns by Geographical Area

2015 CSP Priority Resource Concerns (PDF, 11KB)


2014 Conservation Stewardship Self-Screening Checklist (PDF, 116KB)  


Conservation farmers and forest managers need to submitted an application. CSP has a continuous open application policy; applications received after the cutoff date will be considered in the subsequent next ranking cycle. People interested in being considered for CSP are encouraged to apply now at your local NRCS office.

The following is a list of the forms needed to signup for CSP. CSP sign-up application is available online at USDA Service Center Agencies eForms or at a local USDA Service Center.


Form Number

Form Description


Conservation Program Application and Appendix 2014

Conservation Measurement Tool (CMT) Inventory Questions

As part of the CSP application process, you'll work with your local 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.

Conservation Measurement Tool (CMT) Scoring Process  (See Scoring PDF's)

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.

The 2008 Farm Bill 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.

Payment Information

Please keep checking back for new information to be posted! 

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. 

For 2015 Signup Job Sheets visit the NRCS National CSP site.

Pennsylvania Supplements

2014 PA Supplements will be Coming Soon!

RC&D Assistance with CSP Application Process

Capital Area
401 East Louther Street, Suite 307
Carlisle, PA. 17013
Phone: (717) 241-4361
Web: www.capitalrcd.orgg
Capital Area services the following counties: Adams, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Lancaster, Lebanon, and York counties.

478 Jeffers Street
Building 3, Suite D
DuBois, PA 15801
Phone: 814-375-1372 (ext. 4)
Headwaters services the following counties: Centre, Clinton, Cameron, Clearfield, Jefferson, Elk, Potter and McKean Counties.

Visit the Headwaters Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) website devoted to the NRCS Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) outreach. Click on the link to learn more

Program Contact

Katrina Thompson
Program Manager
(717) 237-2260

Barry Frantz
Assistant State Conservationist
(717) 237-2216