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USDA Increases Minimum Annual Payment for Conservation Stewardship Program

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USDA Increases Minimum Annual Payment for Conservation Stewardship Program

Denver, CO - The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is increasing the minimum annual payment for agricultural producers participating in the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) from $1,500 to $4,000 starting in fiscal year 2024. The increase addresses challenges faced by small scale, underserved, and urban producers and improves equity in the program by making participation more financially beneficial for smaller operations. 

“Increasing the minimum payment to CSP participants regardless of the size of their operation helps to make participation worthwhile for a larger number of producers,” said Clint Evans, State Conservationist for USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Colorado. “By broadening the appeal of CSP, we can further expand implementation of Inflation Reduction Act funding for conservation programs.” 

CSP offers technical and financial assistance to help agricultural and forest producers take their conservation efforts to the next level. The program is designed to compensate agricultural and forest producers who agree to increase their level of conservation by adopting additional conservation activities and maintaining their baseline level of conservation. Examples of CSP enhancements that are suitable for being adopted by smaller scale and urban producers include: • Planting multi-species cover crops • Mulching with natural materials • Establishing pollinator habitats • Soil health crop rotation Inflation Reduction Act and CSP Currently, an unprecedented amount of funding is available for CSP through the Inflation Reduction Act and Farm Bill. 

The Inflation Reduction Act provided $19.5 billion in additional funding for NRCS’ oversubscribed programs like CSP for five years. Inflation Reduction Act funds are available to help producers adopt climate-smart practices. NRCS recently announced it increased the number of Climate-Smart Agricultural and Forestry Mitigation Activities eligible for Inflation Reduction Act funding for fiscal year 2024 through CSP, the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), and the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP).