The Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) is a voluntary program that encourages agricultural producers to improve conservation systems by improving, maintaining, and managing existing conservation activities and undertaking additional conservation activities.
The Natural Resources Conservation Service administers this program and provides financial and technical assistance to eligible producers.
Inflation Reduction Act
On August 18, President Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) into law. The IRA invests around $40 billion into existing The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) programs promoting climate smart agriculture, rural energy efficiency and reliability, forest conservation, and more. Approximately $20 billion of this investment supports USDA’s conservation programs within NRCS.
For CSP-IRA, NRCS may only use IRA funds for contracts that include at least one core Climate Smart Agriculture and Forestry (CSAF) conservation practice or activity identified by national headquarters (NHQ) that directly improve soil carbon, reduce nitrogen losses, or reduce, capture, avoid, or sequester carbon dioxide, methane, or nitrous oxide emissions associated with agricultural production. Facilitating practices or activities that are needed to implement the core practice may also be included.
CSP is available on Tribal and private agricultural lands and non-industrial private forestland (NIPF) on a continuous application basis.
Fiscal Year (FY) 2024 CSP Application Deadline is January 12, 2024.
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 and RCPP
The Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) promotes coordination between NRCS and partners to deliver conservation assistance to producers and landowners. NRCS provides technical and financial assistance to landowners through our programs, such as conservation programs, that also support RCPP approved partner projects. Learn More about RCPP and RCPP projects on our RCPP website.
Conservation Activity Evaluation Tools for Each Ranking Pool (Coming Soon!)
Ag Land Crop (Annual, Mixed)Ag Land Crop (Perennial)
Ag Land Associated (Ag Land)Ag Land (Farmstead)
Ag Land (Pasture)Longleaf Pine Initiative - Associated Ag Land
Longleaf Pine Initiative - Farmstead Longleaf Pine Initiative - Forest
National Industrial Private Forest Land (Associated Ag Land)National Industrial Private Forest Land (Farmstead)
National Industrial Private Forest Land (Forest)
Ready to get started?
Contact your local service center to start your application.
How to Get Assistance
Do you farm or ranch and want to make improvements to the land that you own or lease?
Natural Resources Conservation Service offers technical and financial assistance to help farmers, ranchers and forest landowners.
To get started with NRCS, we recommend you stop by your local NRCS field office. We’ll discuss your vision for your land.
NRCS provides landowners with free technical assistance, or advice, for their land. Common technical assistance includes: resource assessment, practice design and resource monitoring. Your conservation planner will help you determine if financial assistance is right for you.
We’ll walk you through the application process. To get started on applying for financial assistance, we’ll work with you:
- To fill out an AD 1026, which ensures a conservation plan is in place before lands with highly erodible soils are farmed. It also ensures that identified wetland areas are protected.
- To meet other eligibility certifications.
Once complete, we’ll work with you on the application, or CPA 1200.
Applications for most programs are accepted on a continuous basis, but they’re considered for funding in different ranking periods. Be sure to ask your local NRCS district conservationist about the deadline for the ranking period to ensure you turn in your application in time.
As part of the application process, we’ll check to see if you are eligible. To do this, you’ll need to bring:
- An official tax ID (Social Security number or an employer ID)
- A property deed or lease agreement to show you have control of the property; and
- A farm tract number.
If you don’t have a farm tract number, you can get one from USDA’s Farm Service Agency. Typically, the local FSA office is located in the same building as the local NRCS office. You only need a farm tract number if you’re interested in financial assistance.
NRCS will take a look at the applications and rank them according to local resource concerns, the amount of conservation benefits the work will provide and the needs of applicants.
If you’re selected, you can choose whether to sign the contract for the work to be done.
Once you sign the contract, you’ll be provided standards and specifications for completing the practice or practices, and then you will have a specified amount of time to implement. Once the work is implemented and inspected, you’ll be paid the rate of compensation for the work if it meets NRCS standards and specifications.