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News Release

USDA announces sign-up period for updated Conservation Stewardship Program

Contact:
Diane Petit, Public Affairs Officer
413-253-4371


Conservation Stewardship Program

AMHERST, MA, April 16, 2019 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced that the next deadline for Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) applications to be considered for funding in fiscal year 2019 is May 10, 2019. USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) plans to invest up to $700 million nationwide for new enrollments and contract extensions in fiscal year 2019.

“CSP continues to be a very effective tool for private landowners working to achieve their conservation and management goals,” said Christine Clarke, NRCS Massachusetts State Conservationist. “It is the largest conservation program in the United States with more than 70 million acres of productive agricultural and forest land enrolled.”

While applications are accepted throughout the year, interested producers should submit applications to their local NRCS office by May 10, 2019, to ensure their applications are considered for 2019 funding.

The 2018 Farm Bill made several changes to this critical conservation program, which helps agricultural producers take the conservation activities on their farm to the next level. NRCS is authorized to accept new CSP enrollments from now until 2023. Some important improvements to the program include:

  • NRCS now enrolls eligible, high ranking applications based on dollars rather than acres. For fiscal 2019, NRCS can spend up to $700 million in the program, which covers part of the cost for producers implementing new conservation activities and maintaining their existing activities.
  • Higher payment rates are now available for certain conservation activities, including cover crops and resource conserving crop rotations.
  • CSP now provides specific support for organic and transitioning to organic production activities, and a special grassland conservation initiative for certain producers who have maintained cropland base acres.

CSP is offered through continuous sign-ups. The program provides many benefits including increased crop yields, decreased inputs, wildlife habitat improvements and increased resilience to weather extremes. CSP is for working lands including cropland, pastureland, nonindustrial private forest land and agricultural land under the jurisdiction of a tribe.

For more information and to apply, contact your local USDA-NRCS office:

  • Greenfield field office – 413-772-0384, ext 3, serving Franklin County
  • Hadley field office – 413-585-1000, ext 3, serving Hampden and Hampshire counties
  • Holden field office – 508-829-4477, ext 3, serving Worcester County
  • Pittsfield field office – 413-443-1776, ext 3, serving Berkshire County
  • Westford field office – 978-692-1904, ext 3, serving Essex, Middlesex and Suffolk counties
  • Wareham field office – 508-295-5151, ext 2, serving Bristol, Norfolk and Plymouth counties
  • West Yarmouth field office – 508-771-6476, serving Cape Cod and the Islands