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News Release

Sign up for Conservation Stewardship Program Extended to Feb. 7

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is opening the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) for new enrollments for 2014.  Producers interested in participating in the program can submit applications to NRCS now through Feb. 7, 2014.

“Through the Conservation Stewardship Program, farmers and forest landowners go extra mile to conserve our resources,” NRCS State Conservationist Jimmy Bramblett, Wisconsin, said. “Through their conservation actions, they are ensuring that their operations are more productive and sustainable over the long run.”

The CSP is an important Farm Bill conservation program that helps established conservation stewards raise their level of natural resource management to the next level to improve both their farm production and provide valuable conservation benefits such as cleaner and more abundant water, as well as healthier soils and better wildlife habitat.

Bramblett said this program is another example of USDA's focus on environmental conservation and strengthening the rural economy, and it is a reminder that a new Food, Farm and Jobs Bill is pivotal to continue these efforts. CSP is now in its fifth year and so far, NRCS has partnered with producers to enroll more than 59 million acres across the nation, and over 800,000 acres in Wisconsin.

The program emphasizes conservation performance — producers earn higher payments for higher performance. In CSP, producers install conservation enhancements to make positive changes in soil quality, soil erosion, water quality, water quantity, air quality, plant resources, animal resources and energy.

Some popular enhancements used by farmers and ranchers include:

·         Establishing cover crops to protect and enhance the soil

·         Using new nozzles that reduce the drift of pesticides, lowering input costs and making sure pesticides are used where they are most needed;

·         Modifying water facilities to prevent bats and bird species from being trapped; and

·         Rotating feeding areas and monitoring key grazing areas to improve grazing management.

Eligible landowners and operators in all states and territories can enroll in CSP by Feb. 7 to be eligible during the 2014 federal fiscal year. While local NRCS offices accept CSP applications year round, NRCS evaluates applications during announced ranking periods.

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.

More information on the Conservation Stewardship Program.  Contact your local NRCS office to apply for CSP.

For more information, visit www.wi.nrcs.usda.gov , or contact the NRCS office at the USDA Service Center serving your county.