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FY 2016 Conservation Stewardship Program


Application Deadline for:

General CSP                                   March 31, 2016

Landscape Conservation               March 31, 2016
Initiative (LCI) Sage Grouse
Initiative (SGI) - CSP

CSP National NRCS Website

Program Eligibility



Conservation Measurement Tool (CMT) Questions

Conservation Activities / Enhancements

Sage Grouse Initiative - CSP

Contract Renewals

Additional and Contact Information

General Program Information:

The Act of 2014 authorizes the continued use of the Conservation Stewardship Program though fiscal year 2018. The Conservation Stewardship Program replaces the Conservation Security Program which was first enacted in the 2002 Farm Bill. To view the differences in programs click on this link: Stewardship vs Security Comparison.

The Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) helps agricultural producers maintain and improve their existing conservation systems and adopt additional conservation activities to address priority resources concerns.

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(s) for the State, or specific geographic areas within the State.

Applications will be evaluated relative to other applications addressing priority resource concerns and willingness to take on additional conservation efforts to improve the natural resource.

CSP provides two types of payments through five-year contracts: annual payments for installing new conservation activities and maintaining existing practices; and supplemental payments for adopting a resource-conserving crop rotation.

Producers may be eligible to renew a contract if they have successfully fulfilled the initial contract and agree to achieve additional conservation objectives.

Payments are made soon as practical after October 1 of each fiscal year for contract activities installed and maintained in the previous year.

Program Eligibility:

Applicant: Individuals, entities, and Indian Tribes operating agricultural or private non-industrial private forest land. Prior to submitting an application the applicant must be the operator in the Farm Services Agency (FSA) farm records management system for the agricultural operation being offered for the program. The applicant must have effective control of the lands for the life of the contract, be compliant with the highly erodible land (HEL) and wetland conservation (WC) provisions, and be compliant with payment eligibility provisions, including the adjusted gross income (AGI) provision.

In addition, the program provides opportunities for beginning farmers and ranchers and socially disadvantaged producers. Nationally, the program aims to enroll at least five percent of total program acres operated by beginning farmers and ranchers and another five percent operated by socially disadvantaged producers. Within each specified geographic area and land use, beginning farmers and ranchers and socially disadvantaged producers will have a separate funding pool.

Land: The CSP contract must include all eligible and ineligible lands on an applicant agricultural operation, that the applicant has effective control for the life of the CSP contract, which is 5 years. Eligible lands consist of cropland, pastureland, rangeland, forestlands, Agricultural Land Easements (ALE), and Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) in certain cases.

Stewardship Threshold: Applicants must meet the stewardship threshold for at least two priority resource concerns when they apply and agree to meet or exceed the stewardship threshold for at least one additional priority resource concern by the end of the contract.

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The Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) presents a significant shift in how NRCS provides conservation program payments. Instead of using the traditional compensation model that pays a per-acre rental rate or a percentage of the estimated cost of installing a practice, CSP pays for conservation performance, the higher the performance, the higher the payment. Click here for National payment rates.

Annual Payments – Are to compensate a participant for installing and adopting additional conservation activities and improving, maintaining, and managing existing conservation activities across the entire agricultural operation.

Supplemental – Subject to availability of funds, NRCS will provide a supplemental payment to a participant receiving annual payments, who also agrees to adopt or improve a resource conserving crop rotation (RCCR) (see enhancements for further details).

Payment limits: A person or legal entity may not receive, direct or indirect, payments that, in the aggregate, exceed $40,000 during any fiscal year for all contracts entered into, and $200,000 under all CSP contracts entered into during fiscal years 2014 through 2018.

Joint operations are limited to $80,000 per fiscal year and $400,000 over the term of the initial contract period.

Indian tribes are not subject to payment or contract limitations. However, payment limitation does apply to individual tribal member(s) if contracted as an individual.


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Application Process:

Interested producers can begin the application process by completing the following steps:

1.  Complete a Self- Screening Checklist (PDF, 857 KB).
2.  Verify program eligibility at your local USDA Service Center.
3.  Submit a program application form (PDF, 50 KB).
4.  Submit an operation map, aerial photograph or overlay that identifies their agricultural and/or forest operation and associated acreage amounts.

Applications will then be ranked to determine whether the applicant meets the land stewardship threshold necessary to participate in the program.

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CSP Contract Renewals:

At the end of the initial 5-year contract period, NRCS may allow a participant to renew the contract to receive payments for one additional 5-year period, subject to the availability of funds.

To be considered for contract renewal, the participant must:

(1) Be in compliance with the terms of their initial contract as determined by NRCS;

(2) Add any newly acquired eligible land that is part of the agricultural operation;

(3) Agree to adopt and continue to integrate conservation activities across the entire agricultural operation; and

(4) Agree, to meet or exceed the stewardship thresholds for at least two additional applicable priority resource concerns on the agricultural operation; or exceed the stewardship threshold of two existing applicable priority resource concerns from the initial contract by the end of the renewed contract period.

CSP contracts eligible for renewal are:  Contracts obligated in FY 2012 and will expire on December 31, 2016. Eligible applicants must submit a NRCS-CPA-1248 “Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) Contract Renewal Offer Worksheet and a NRCS-CPA-1200 “Program Contract Application” to the local NRCS office by March 31, 2016 to be considered for renewal.  Question regarding the renewal process can be directed to your local NRCS office.

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Additional and Contact Information:

Payment for Performance
CSP Agricultural Operations

The Organic Crosswalk:

The Act of 2014 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.