Conservation Stewardship Program
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.
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. 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 is CSP Different from Other Programs?
CSP provides conservation program payments in a manner that is different from other NRCS programs. CSP participants will receive an annual land use payment for operation level environmental benefits they produce. Under CSP, participants are paid for conservation performance: the higher the operational performance, the higher their payment.
How are CSP Applications Ranked?
Ohio will be divided into four regions (see map), Appalachian Plateau, Erie-Huron Lake Plain, Indiana-Ohio Till Plain, and Lake Erie Plateau. Applications within each region will be ranked against each other to ensure competition between similar applications.
NRCS will use a Conservation Measurement Tool (CMT) to evaluate CSP applications through a point based system to estimate environmental benefits. The CMT evaluates existing and new activities to calculate conservation performance points which will be used for ranking and payment purposes.
CSP offers participants two possible types of payments; Annual payments for installing and adopting additional activities, and for improving, maintaining, and managing existing activities; and Supplemental payment for the adoption of a resource conserving crop rotation.
How to Apply
Visit your local USDA Service Center to get started.
Download NRCS conservation program application (PDF, 267KB)
CSP Fact Sheet (PDF, 618KB)
To learn how to get started with NRCS, visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/getstarted
Summary of changes to CSP in the Interim Final Rule
To see more detailed information about CSP, visit the CSP program homepage or the 2015 Enhancement Activity Job Sheets page.