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?
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.
CSP Application Package
The following documents require Acrobat Reader.
2015 Farm Bill Application Form
The Conservation Stewardship Program requires applicants to establish records with the Farm Service Agency if they do not have these records established already. Where applicants already have records established with the Farm Service Agency, they will need to ensure that these records are updated.
Conservation Measurement Tool
As part of the CSP application process, you'll work with NRCS field staff to complete your resource inventory using a Conservation Measurement Tool (CMT). The CMT determines the conservation performance for existing and additional conservation activities.
Go to the National CSP Website for CMT questions.
CSP Resource Conserving Crops
With advise from State Technical Committee Members, each State has created a list of resource conserving crops that applicants can incorporate into their cropland acres if they are eligible for, and elect to adopt the Resource Conserving Crop Rotation Enhancement.
Resource Conserving Crop Rotation Job Sheet
Vermont Resource Conserving Crops
1. Perennial grass (not exclusive):
- orchard grass
2. A legume grown for use as a forage, seed for planting, or green manure (not exclusive):
- red clover
- hairy vetch
- field peas
3. A legume-grass mixture (not exclusive):
- perennial grass and red clover
- perennial grass and alfalfa
- rye and hairy vetch
4. A small grain grown in combination with a grass or legume, whether interseeded or planted in rotation (not exclusive):
- oats and field peas crop followed by a perennial grass (see #1 above). The small grain residue shall not be harvested or grazed.
- rye and hairy vetch winter cover crop followed by alfalfa or other legume (see #2 above). The cover crop shall not be harvested or grazed
- oats and field peas followed by alfalfa and a perennial grass. The small grain residue shall not be harvested or grazed.
- oats or triticale or rye or wheat or barley or millet in rotation with a perennial grass. The small grain shall not be harvested or grazed.
- oats or triticale or rye or wheat or barley or millet in rotation with alfalfa or other legume. The small grain residue shall not be harvested or grazed.
- oats or triticale or rye or wheat or barley or millet in rotation with alfalfa or other legume and perennial grass. The small grain residue shall not be harvested or grazed.
How to Apply
Visit your local USDA Service Center, or visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/getstarted
Vermont CSP Fact Sheet (PDF, 618KB)
National CSP Fact Sheet
Sign up for Farm Bill email updates
Vermont NRCS Farm Bill Homepage