Farm Bill conservation program seeks producer participation
Applications for Conservation Stewardship Program Due Jan. 17
HARRISBURG, PA, Dec. 6, 2013 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is opening the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) for new enrollments for federal fiscal year 2014. Starting today through January 17, 2014, producers interested in participating in the program can submit applications to NRCS.
“Through the Conservation Stewardship Program, farmers and forest landowners in Pennsylvania and throughout the country are going the extra mile to conserve our resources,” NRCS State Conservationist Denise Coleman said. “Their conservation actions enable their operations to be more productive and sustainable over the long run.”
The CSP is an important Farm Bill conservation program that helps established conservation stewards with taking their natural resource management to the next level to improve both their agricultural production and provide valuable conservation benefits such as cleaner and more abundant water, as well as healthier soils and better wildlife habitat.
According to Coleman, the CSP is another example of USDA's comprehensive focus on promoting environmental conservation and strengthening the rural economy, and it is a reminder that a new Food, Farm and Jobs Bill is pivotal to continue these efforts. CSP is now in its fifth year and so far, NRCS has partnered with producers to enroll more than 270,000 acres in Pennsylvania.
The program emphasizes conservation performance by rewarding higher-performing producers with higher payments. In CSP, producers install conservation enhancements to make positive changes in soil quality, soil erosion, water quality, water quantity, air quality, plant resources, animal resources and energy.
Some popular enhancements used by farmers and forest landowners include:
Using new nozzles that reduce the drift of pesticides, lowering input costs and making sure pesticides are used where they are most needed;
Modifying water facilities to prevent bats and bird species from being trapped;
Applying nutrients to soils with higher precision techniques; and
Rotating feeding areas and monitoring key grazing areas to improve grazing management.
Eligible landowners and operators can enroll in CSP through January 17th to be eligible during the 2014 federal fiscal year. While local NRCS offices accept CSP applications year round, NRCS evaluates applications during announced ranking periods.
To be eligible for this year’s enrollment, producers must have their applications submitted to NRCS by the closing date.
A CSP self-screening checklist is available to help producers determine if the program is suitable for their operation. The checklist highlights basic information about CSP eligibility requirements, stewardship threshold requirements and payment types.
Learn more about CSP by visiting the NRCS website or a local NRCS field office.
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