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FY 2018 Conservation Stewardship Program


Application deadline for 2018 CSP contracts: March 2, 2018

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. CSP is for working lands. It’s the largest conservation program in the United States with 70 million acres of productive agricultural and forest land enrolled. Thousands of people have made the choice to voluntarily enroll in the program because it helps them enhance natural resources and improve their business operation.

Get the latest information about CSP on the National CSP Website.

How Does CSP Work?

Most agricultural producers that are approved to participate in CSP have already been implementing conservation practices on their land. CSP offers enhancements for those practices. For example, if you have been practicing prescribed grazing, CSP would give you options to enhance that practice with activities such as grazing management to improve plants for wildlife, or grazing management to reduce soil compaction, or grazing management to improve riparian function, just to name a few.

If you decide to enroll in CSP, the local NRCS conservation planner will have a one-on-one consultation with you to evaluate your current management system and the natural resources on your agricultural operation. Then the NRCS conservation planner will determine if current activities on your agricultural operation meets stewardship eligibility and assist you in identifying CSP enhancements to consider based on your existing conservation practices.

CSP helps agricultural producers maintain and improve their existing conservation systems and adopt additional conservation activities to address resources concerns on the agricultural operation.

The program encourages producers to address resource concerns to improve and conserve the quality and condition of natural resources in a comprehensive manner by, undertaking additional conservation activities and improving, maintaining, and managing existing conservation activities across the producer’s entire agricultural operation.

Once you choose the enhancements that best fit your agricultural operation, CSP offers annual incentive payments for installing these practices on your land. If you want to take it even a step further, CSP also offers bundles where you can select a suite of enhancements.


In order to participate in CSP the applicant must meet all three eligibility criteria; producer, land, and stewardship 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 of record in the Farm Services Agency (FSA) farm records management system for the agricultural operation being offered for the program. NRCS may grant waivers to the operator of record requirement for other producer, tenant, or owners list on the Farm Services Agency record. Written request must be submitted to NRCS before the end of the evaluation period which is May 11, 2018. 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 agricultural operation that the applicant has effective control for the life of the CSP contract, which is 5 years. Eligible lands consist of tribal or private cropland, pastureland, rangeland, forestlands, associated agricultural lands, and farmstead. 

Stewardship Threshold: The stewardship threshold means the level of management required to conserve and improve the quality and condition of a natural resource. Each stewardship threshold is evaluated using the Conservation Activity Evaluation Tool (CAET), which assesses the applicant’s conservation management decisions for each resource concern on each land use in their operation. The applicant must meet or exceed the stewardship threshold on all land uses. Each land use must address at least two resource concerns at time of application and address at least one additional resource concern by the end of the conservation stewardship contract on each land use.

FY 2018 Stewardship Threshold CSP Evaluation Test Questions by Land Use

  • Cropland Mix Annual (coming soon)
  • Cropland Perennial (coming soon)
  • Rangeland (coming soon)
  • Pastureland (coming soon)
  • Forestland (coming soon)
  • Farmstead (coming soon)
  • Associated Ag Lands (coming soon)

FY 2018 CSP Local Ranking Questions in Oregon

2018 CSP Zone Boundaries Map

CSP Contracts and Payments

The program represents a genuine commitment to conservation. CSP contracts last five years, with the option to renew if you successfully fulfill the initial contract and agree to achieve additional conservation objectives. An NRCS conservation planner will work closely with you throughout the entire process.

Contract payments are based on two components:

  • Annual Payment  -  For installing and adopting additional conservation activities and improving, maintaining, and managing existing conservation activities across the entire agricultural operation. Annual payments may vary from year to year depending on the management system agreed to at the time of enrollment and the extent of additional activities completed each year. Additional activity payments will be based on the activities actually completed in a given year and existing activity payments will be the same each year and can be made in years when there are no new activities scheduled.
  • Supplemental Payments - Can be made on cropland for either adopting a resource conserving crop rotation (RCCR) or improving a resource conserving crop rotation (IRCCR).

Minimum Payments: NRCS will make a $1,500 minimum payment to a CSP contract in any fiscal year that the contract’s payment amount total is less than $1,500.

FY18 CSP Payment Schedule

You will be required to maintain the stewardship level of the resource concerns you are already meeting, plus meet or exceed at least one additional resource concern in each land use by the end of the contract. At the end of the initial contract, you may be eligible to re-enroll for an additional 5 year contract if you agree to adopt additional conservation activities to meet or exceed two additional targeted resource concerns.

CSP Landscape Conservation Initiative (LCI) for Sage Grouse

The CSP Sage Grouse Landscape Conservation Initiative encourages agricultural producers to enhance natural resources on their agricultural operation for sage grouse habitat. Producers who have their agricultural operation within in a priority sage grouse area can apply.

The CSP LCI for Sage Grouse program has the same eligibility, ranking and application process as the general CSP sign up. Applications must be submitted to your local NRCS office by March 2, 2018.

To determine if you qualify for the CSP Sage Grouse Landscape Conservation Initiative, producers must be within the sage grouse focal area and agree to incorporate the core enhancement in their agricultural operation.

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) Continue to adopt conservation activities that are in the initial CSP contract and agree to take on new conservation activities throughout the entire agricultural operation; and

(4) Agree, to meet or exceed the stewardship threshold on all land uses for both of the following; At least two targeted resource concerns at the time of renewal on each land use and meet or exceed at least two additional targeted resource concerns by the end of the CSP contract for each land use.

CSP contracts eligible for renewal are: contracts obligated in FY 2014 and will expire on December 31, 2018. Eligible applicants must submit an NRCS-CPA-1248 “Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) Contract Renewal Offer Worksheet and an NRCS-CPA-1200 “Program Contract Application” to the local NRCS office by April 13, 2018 to be considered for renewal.  Question regarding the renewal process can be directed to your local NRCS office.