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Conservation Stewardship Program - FY 2010 Ranking Period Two

Introduction - What's New In Ranking Period Two?

The Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) is available nationwide through a continuous sign-up process.

NRCS is accepting applications for the next ranking and funding period. The cut-off date is anticipated to fall in the first quarter of fiscal year 2011 (likely in late October 2010).

Producers interested in applying for a fiscal year 2011 contract are encouraged to begin the application process now.

 A summary of changes to the CSP Final Rule is available online and as a PDF download (PDF, 35KB)
The Final Obligation Report for 2010, Ranking Period One is available (PDF, 100KB).
The Conservation Stewardship Program Final Rule (PDF, 325KB) is available.

Program Description

The Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) is a voluntary conservation program that encourages producers to address resource concerns in a comprehensive manner by:

  • Undertaking additional conservation activities; and
  • Improving, maintaining, and managing existing conservation activities.

CSP is available on Tribal and private agricultural lands and non-industrial private forest land in all 50 States and the Caribbean and Pacific Islands Areas. The program provides equitable access to all producers, regardless of operation size, crops produced, or geographic location. The Secretary of Agriculture has delegated the authority for CSP to the NRCS Chief.

Payment for Performance

The updated Payment for Performance fact sheet available for download and printing (PDF, 50KB).

June 2010 CSP Fact Sheet

The CSP program fact sheet has been updated and is available for download and printing (PDF, 45KB).  

Eligible Lands

Through CSP, NRCS will provide financial and technical assistance to eligible producers to conserve and enhance soil, water, air, and related natural resources on their land.

  • cropland
  • grassland
  • prairie land
  • improved pastureland
  • rangeland
  • nonindustrial private forest lands
  • agricultural land under the jurisdiction of an Indian tribe

and other private agricultural land (including cropped woodland, marshes, and agricultural land used for the production of livestock) on which resource concerns related to agricultural production could be addressed.

How CSP Works

CSP encourages land stewards to improve their conservation performance by installing and adopting additional activities, and improving, maintaining, and managing existing activities on agricultural land and nonindustrial private forest land. The NRCS will make CSP available nationwide on a continuous application basis.

The State Conservationist, in consultation with the State Technical Committee and local work groups, will focus program impacts on natural resources that are of specific concern for a State, or the specific geographic areas within a State. Applications will be evaluated relative to other applications addressing similar priority resource concerns to facilitate a competitive ranking process among applicants within a State who face similar resource challenges.

The entire operation must be enrolled and must include all eligible land operated substantially separate that will be under the applicant's control for the term of the proposed contract.

CSP offers participants two possible types of payments:

  1. Annual payment for installing and adopting additional activities, and improving, maintaining, and managing existing activities
  2. Supplemental payment for the adoption of resource-conserving crop rotations

Is CSP Right For Me?

You can play a large role in determining whether or not CSP is right for you. Here's how:

Conservation Stewardship Self-Screening Checklist

Download and fill out the Conservation Stewardship Self-Screening Checklist (PDF, 98KB) 

You don't have to turn it in to NRCS; it's there to help you determine for CSP is right for you.  If you have questions regarding the Checklist, please contact your local NRCS office.

Download the Conservation Program Activity List (PDF, 98KB), to identify new activities you may be interested in to install or adopt.

An "Enhancement" is a conservation activity used to treat natural resources and greatly improve conservation performance.

Enhancements are installed at a level of management intensity which exceeds the sustainable level for a given resource concern.

Enhancements directly related to a practice standard are applied in a manner that exceeds the minimum treatment requirements of the standard.

A "Bundle" is a group of specific enhancements which when installed as a group, addresses resource concerns synergetically.  

The following links lead to Enhancement Activity Job Sheets. Each Job Sheet is a complete description of the activities summarized the Conservation Program Activity List:

How Do I Apply?

  • The CSP Application Download and fill out the the Conservation Stewardship Program Application  (PDF, 40KB), and turn it in to your local NRCS office
  • Conservation Measurement Tool Inventory Questions

    As part of the CSP application process, you'll  work with NRCS field personnel to complete your resource inventory using a Conservation Measurement Tool (CMT). The CMT determines the conservation performance for existing and additional conservation activities.

    The documents below are copies of the resource inventory questions, grouped by land use.  You can download and review the questions, and begin drafting responses to start resource inventory process before you complete the CMT in your local NRCS office.

The documents below require Adobe Acrobat Reader.

CMT Tool Crop Questions (PDF, 59KB)

CMT Tool Forest General Questions (PDF, 10KB)

CMT Tool Forest Questions (PDF, 15KB)

CMT Tool Ag Land General Questions (PDF, 10KB)

CMT Tool Pasture Questions (PDF, 16KB)

CMT Tool Range Questions (PDF, 12KB)

CMT Tool Water Questions (PDF, 10KB)

  • Conservation Measurement Tool (CMT) Scoring Process

NRCS will use the CMT to evaluate CSP applications through a point-based system to estimate environmental benefits.
The CMT evaluates existing and proposed new activities to calculate conservation performance points which will be used for ranking and payment purposes.

Conservation performance points are programmed in the CMT, along with all controls, filters, and calculations.

A scientific validation of CMT is underway and future modifications to these points may be needed.

The Organic Crosswalk

The 2008 Farm Bill recognized the growing interest and support of organic agriculture across the country and required the development of a transparent means by which producers may initiate organic certification while participating in a CSP contract. "The Conservation Stewardship Program's Contribution to Organic Transitioning - The Organic Crosswalk", provides an explanation of how CSP enhancements can be used to assist producers in meeting individual National Organic Program (NOP) rules while going through the transitioning period.

The Organic Crosswalk (PDF, 45KB)

CSP and Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative (CCPI)

The Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative (CCPI) is a voluntary conservation initiative that enables the use of certain conservation programs along with resources of eligible partners to provide additional financial and/or technical assistance to owners and operators of agricultural and nonindustrial private forest lands. The document below provides guidance how to use CCPI:

CSP CCPI Guidance (PDF, 45KB)

2010 Ranking Period One

The results of the first ranking and funding period are available on the web and as a download (PDF, 43KB)

Other documents, press releases and radio spots from the first ranking period are still available. Enhancement activity jobsheets from first ranking period are also available.