Richmond, VA, May 28, 2013 – Virginia farmers and forestry producers interested in taking their land management practices to the next level can now sign up for the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) to earn incentive payments for the environmental benefits their operations produce.
Authorized in the 2008 Farm Bill, this USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) program is open to all Virginia farmers and forestry producers who are actively involved in applying conservation practices on their land. Targeted land includes crop-, pasture- and non-industrial private forest land with no restrictions on operation size, crops produced, or geographic location. However, producers must move quickly because the first enrollment period ends June 14, 2013.
“CSP really is a win-win proposition for Virginia producers because they can address resource concerns while adding value to the land and helping their bottom line,” says State Conservationist Jack Bricker. “In 2012, Virginia obligated $1.2 million in CSP contracts with landowners who will receive annual land use payments based on their operational performance.”
CSP is offered in all 50 states through continuous sign-ups. The program provides many conservation benefits including improvement of water and soil quality, wildlife habit enhancements and adoption of conservation activities that address the effects of climate change.
Applicants work with NRCS field personnel to complete the resource inventory using a Conservation Measurement Tool (CMT). The CMT calculates the conservation performance for existing and new conservation activities, which will be used to determine the applicant’s eligibility, ranking and payments.
A CSP self-screening checklist is available from local NRCS offices and online at www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/national/programs/financial/csp to help potential applicants determine if CSP is suitable for their operation. The checklist highlights basic information about CSP eligibility requirements, contract obligations and potential payments.
To apply or obtain a checklist, call or visit a local USDA Service Center, listed online at offices.usda.gov, or in the telephone book under United States Government, Agriculture Department.