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Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP)

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Although applications are accepted on a continuous basis, the cut-off date for the FY 2015 Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) funding has been extended to Friday. March 13, 2015.

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.


What's New in CSP?

CSP Interim Final Rule with Request for Comment on Federal Register website.

This interim rule with request for comment amends the CSP to incorporate programmatic changes as authorized by amendments in the Agricultural Act of 2014 (2014 Act).

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

Download NRCS CSP application (PDF, 50 KB)

Is CSP Right For Me?

You can play a role in determining whether or not CSP is right for you. Here's how:

How do I apply?

Conservation Program Application NRCS-CPA-1200 (PDF, 50 KB)

Payment Rates

  • 2015 Payment for Performance Payment Rates Coming Soon! (PDF, KB)

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 (2015)

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.

Conservation Measurement Tool (CMT) Scoring Process (2015)-COMING SOON!

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.

  • Ranking Period One CMT Scoring Process One Pager (PDF,  KB)
  • Ranking Period One CMT Scoring (PDF,  KB)
  • Ranking Period One CMT Questions and Effects Scores (PDF, KB)
  • Ranking Period One Activities and Effects Scores  - Includes Practice List (PDF, KB)

Organic Crosswalk

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.

More Information

CSP Fact Sheet (PDF, 610 KB)

Detailed Information

To see more detailed information about CSP, visit the CSP program homepage.

Find your local USDA Service Center

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Northern Rhode Island Field Office

Serving Providence County
Justin Tuthill, District Conservationist

Eastern Rhode Island Field Office

Serving Bristol and Newport Counties
Melissa Hayden District Conservationist

Southern Rhode Island Field Office

Serving Kent and Washington counties
John Richard, District Conservationist