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Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP)

Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP)


Have you ever looked across your property and thought about some land management goals you would like to take to the next level?

Maybe we can help.

No one knows more about your land than you do, and no one knows more about conservation than we do. Together we can develop a plan tailored to your land and your goals to help you increase productivity and protect the value of your land.

Our Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) helps you build on your existing conservation efforts while strengthening your operation.  Whether you are looking to improve grazing conditions, increase crop yields, or develop wildlife habitat, we can custom design a CSP plan to help you meet those goals. We can help you schedule timely planting of cover crops, develop a grazing plan that will improve your forage base, implement no-till to reduce erosion or manage forested areas in a way that benefits wildlife habitat.  If you are already taking steps to improve the condition of the land, chances are CSP can help you find new ways to meet your goals.

What is the Conservation Stewardship Program?

The Conservation Stewardship Program is a voluntary conservation program that 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 the resource conditions on their land—including soil, air and habitat quality, water quality and quantity, and energy conservation.

National NRCS Conservation Stewardship Program Website
CSP program fact sheet

Eligibility/Requirements for CSP Renewal and CSP Classic


Applicant Eligibility – Applicants may include individuals, legal entities, joint operations or Indian Tribes. All CSP applicants must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • Be listed as the operator, the owner, or other tenant in the USDA farm records management system for the operation being offered for enrollment.
  • Document that they control the land for the term of the contract and include all eligible land in their entire operation in that contract.
  • Comply with highly erodible land and wetland conservation provisions and comply with Adjusted Gross Income provisions.
  • Comply with tenants & sharecroppers provision.

‚ÄčLand Eligibility – CSP is available to all producers, regardless of operation size or type of crops produced.  Eligible lands include private and Tribal agricultural lands (crop and pasture), nonindustrial private forest land (NIPF), associated agricultural land, and farmstead.  Producers must have effective control of the land for the term of the proposed contract.  Contracts must include all eligible land associated with the applicants agricultural or NIPF operation. 

Stewardship Threshold Eligibility – NRCS will use the Conservation Assessment and Ranking Tool (CART) to determine whether or not the applicant is addressing resource concerns in order to meet the stewardship eligibility requirement.

An applicant’s conservation activities must meet or exceed the stewardship threshold for both of the following:

  • At least two resource concerns on all land uses included in the operation at the time of contract offer.
  • ‚ÄčAt least one additional resource concern by the end of the conservation stewardship contract on at least one land use.

FY2022 CSP Renewal Opportunity

Renewal applicants must meet or exceed two additional Priority resource concerns or implement new or improve existing conservation activities to achieve higher levels of conservation performance for a minimum of two priority resource concerns met or exceeded in the initial contract.

Availability for all active and eligible 2019 CSP contracts.

Additional restrictions and program requirements may apply.

CSP FY2023 Fund Pools 


How to Apply


NRCS will accept CSP application on a continuous basis.  Applicants must submit Form NRCS-CPA-1200, “Conservation Program Application,” and a map delineating the entire agricultural or Nonindustrial Private forest Land (NIPF) operation.  Agricultural land applications will compete separately from NIPF applications.  An applicant with both NIPF and agricultural land can submit one application for NIPF, one for agricultural land, or two applications (one for each land type).  Applicants requesting consideration as a veteran, socially disadvantaged, or beginning farmer or rancher must self-certify by marking all applicable status boxes on Form NRCS-CPA-1200. 

NOTE: NRCS policy requirement for conducting a 5% review of contracts obligated to Historically Underserved clients. In Maine, NRCS conducts this review in the first quarter of the fiscal year for the contracts obligated to Limited Resource, Beginning, and Veteran farmers in the prior fiscal year.

Three application types are:

  • Maine Statewide Ag Lands-Organic
  • Maine Statewide Ag Lands
  • Maine Statewide NIPF

Conservation Program Application NRCS-CPA-1200

Conservation Program Application NRCS-CPA-1200 Appendix 

NEW: The FY 2023 application batching period deadline for CSP is Aug. 26, 2022

Priority Resource Concerns

Ag Land State priority
Aquatic Habitat
Concentrated Erosion
Degraded Plant Condition
Field Sediment, Nutrient and Pathogen Loss
Pest Pressure
Soil Quality Limitations
Terrestrial Habitat
Wind and Water Erosion

NIPF State Priority
Air Quality Emissions
Aquatic Habitat
Concentrated Erosion
Degraded Plant Condition
Pest Pressure
Soil Quality Limitations
Terrestrial Habitat
Wind and Water Erosion


CSP Conservation Activities

Applicants may adopt conservation activities (conservation practices, enhancements, or bundles) in order to meet or exceed a resource concern by the end of the conservation stewardship contract.

  • Conservation practices must meet the criteria in the conservation practice standards and specifications available in the Field Office Technical Guide (FOTG).
  • Enhancements are a conservation activity used to treat natural resource concerns and improve producer conservation  performance.  Enhancement adoption results in environmental benefits that are equal to or greater than the performance level for the planning criteria identified for a given resource concern. 
  • Enhancement Bundles are specific enhancements whose installation as a group produce conservation performance improvement and address resource concerns in a more comprehensive and cost-effective manner.

CSP Enhancements*Not all of the practices, enhancements and bundles on the national list are available for use in Maine.

2023 Maine Payment Schedule Page (pending)

Participants must schedule, install and adopt at least one additional conservation activity on the operation.  At least one conservation activity must be completed within the first 12 months of the contract.


2023 Application Ranking Summary 

Eligible applications that meet the stewardship threshold eligibility requirements will be ranked using the Conservation Assessment Ranking Tool (CART).  NRCS ranks CSP applications based on the following factors:

  • Level of conservation treatment on all priority resource concerns at the time of application.
  • Degree to which proposed conservation activities effectively increase conservation performance.
  • Number of, and extent to which, priority and non-priority resource concerns will be treated by the end of the contract. 

Maine Ranking Criteria for NRCS Programs - Fiscal Year 2023 (pending)

Benefits to Participants

Subject to the availability of funds, participants will receive one payment per fiscal year of the contract, as soon as practicable after October 1, which includes:

  • An annual payment for maintaining and managing existing conservation activities.
  • Payments for installing and adopting additional conservation activities.
  • Supplemental payments for adopting Advanced Grazing Management or adopting or improving a resource conserving crop rotation.

Payment for installing and adapting new conservation activities will be made in accordance with the current Fiscal Year Payment Schedule.

PLEASE NOTE: There may be more than one payment schedule developed for each of the NRCS-Maine Financial Assistance programs for particular funding pools.  Multiple payment schedules are incorporated into a single payment schedule document for the program.  You can identify the particular payment schedule you are interested in by the label in the lower left corner of each page.

Supplemental payment options exist for the implementation of resource-conserving crop rotation.  A resource-conserving crop rotation is a rotation that includes at least one resource-conserving crop that reduces erosion, improves soil fertility and tilth, interrupts pest cycles in applicable areas, reduces depletion of soil moisture or otherwise reduces the need for irrigation, and may provide protection and habitat for pollinators.  Maine’s Resource-Conserving Crops

In any fiscal year that a contract’s payment amount total is less than the fiscal year’s minimum contract payment rate, the payment for the fiscal year will be the minimum contract payment rate.  

Payment Limit:  A person or legal entity may not receive, directly or indirectly, payments that, in the aggregate, exceed $200,000 for all CSP contracts originally obligated during Fiscal Years 2019 through 2023.

Program Contact

Susan Arrants, Assistant State Conservationist for Programs, (207) 990-9564, or email



July 1, 2022