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Conservation Stewardship FY13

Conservation Stewardship Program Applications Due by June 14

The Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Conservation Stewardship Program will provide about $175 million in funding for up to 12.6 million additional acres enrollment this year.

Although applications are accepted all year, farmers, ranchers and forestland owners interested in CSP should submit applications by June 14 to their local NRCS office to ensure they are considered for this year’s funding.

A CSP self-screening checklist is available to help producers determine if the program is suitable for their operation. The checklist highlights basic information about CSP eligibility requirements, stewardship threshold requirements and payment types.

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 will make CSP 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 a State, or the 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

Eligible Lands

Through 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.

  • Cropland
  • Grassland
  • Prairie Land
  • Improved Pastureland
  • Rangeland
  • Nonindustrial Private Forest Lands
  • Agricultural Land Under the Jurisdiction of an Indian Tribe
  • 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.

Is CSP Right For Me?

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

Conservation Stewardship Self-Screening Checklist

CSP Fact Sheet

The CSP program fact sheet is available for download and printing (PDF, 45KB).


FY 2013  Ranking Period One Program Documents

CSP Application

The following link takes you off the NRCS website

Conservation Program Application NRCS-CPA-1200

Appendix to Form NRCS-CPA-1202, Conservation Program Contract for CSP (PDF, 40KB)

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.

Ranking Period One Enhancement Activity Job Sheets

Activity List

  • 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.

Ranking Period One Activity List (PDF 112KB)

Payment Rates

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.

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.

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