USDA Offers Renewal Options for Expiring Conservation Stewardship Program Contracts
A contract renewal sign-up is underway for the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), USDA’s largest working lands conservation program with more than four million acres enrolled in Oklahoma. Applications to renew expiring contracts are due by May 5, 2017. USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) made several updates to the popular program last fall. These changes help producers better evaluate conservation options that benefit their operations while improving the health and productivity of private and Tribal working lands.
“CSP does not involve setting land aside or taking it out of production. With CSP, Oklahoma’s natural resource concerns can be addressed while maintaining the agricultural activity that makes Oklahoma’s economy so vibrant,” said Gary O’Neill, State Conservationist for NRCS in Oklahoma. “With the changes we’ve brought to CSP in the last year, we believe we’ve got one of the most powerful tools available to make high-level conservation work on active farm and ranch operations.”
Participants with existing CSP contracts that will expire on Dec. 31, 2017 can access the benefits of the recent program changes through an option to renew their contracts for an additional five years if they agree to adopt additional activities to achieve higher levels of conservation on their lands.
Through CSP, agricultural producers and forest landowners earn payments for actively managing, maintaining, and expanding conservation activities like cover crops, buffer strips, pollinator and beneficial insect habitat and soil health building activities—all while maintaining active agricultural production on their land. Benefits to producers can include:
- Improved cattle gains per acre;
- Increased crop yields;
- Decreased inputs;
- Wildlife population improvements; and
- Better resilience to weather extremes.
Producers interested in contract renewals or applying for CSP for the first time should visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/csp or contact their local USDA service center to learn more.
News release: USDA Offers Renewal Options for Expiring Conservation Stewardship Program Contracts (PDF, 92 KB)
Image: CSP is the Nation's largest working lands conservation program. (JPEG, 44 KB)