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CSP Payments

Participating in the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) represents a genuine commitment to conservation – CSP contracts are for five years, with the option to renew if you successfully fulfill the initial contract and agree to achieve additional conservation objectives.

Benefits to Participants

CSP activities and enhancements are advanced practices that are based on proven conservation practices and help farmers and forest landowners adopt a higher level of management that will improve their operations. CSP Payments help offset costs to maintain existing levels of management and to implement new activities. Payments fall into the following categories:

  • An existing activity payment made each year for maintaining and managing existing conservation activities.
  • Additional activity payments made each year they are done, for installing and adopting new conservation activities including practices, enhancements, and bundles of enhancements.
  • Optional supplemental payments on cropland or pasture where a resource conserving crop rotation or advanced grazing management system has been adopted or improved.
  • A minimum annual payment amount if the existing activity, additional activity, and supplemental payments are less than $1,500 in any given year.
  • CLICK HERE to view 2020 CSP Payment Rates.

Existing Activity Payment

For maintaining the level of conservation stewardship in place on your operation when you apply for CSP, an existing activity payment is made each year during the five-year term of the CSP contract. This provides support for the cost of maintaining the existing conservation systems or practices on your land. The existing activity payment has two parts:

  1. A payment of $300 for each resource concern you are already meeting, and
  2. A per acre payment based on acres within each land use in the operation:
  • Cropland and Farmstead - $7.50 per acre               
  • Pasture - $3.00 per acre
  • Non-Industrial Private Forestland (NIPF), and Associated Agricultural Land - $0.50 per acre

Additional Activity Payment

CSP participants must implement at least one new activity in the first year of the operation and must implement at least one new activity on each land use in the contract (cropland and pasture in agricultural operations; forestland in NIPF operations). Beyond that, participants can implement additional activities to further improve their operation and receive additional payments. Additional activities can be new practices, enhancements, or bundles of enhancements. Payments for enhancements, practices, or bundles will be based on the actual amount installed or applied. This portion of your annual payment will vary each year based on the conservation activities applied during the year.

Supplemental Payment Options

Supplemental payment options are available for adoption of Resource Conserving Crop Rotations and Advanced Grazing Management.

Advanced Grazing Management (AGM) improves the benefits of managed grazing by integrating an additional suite of enhancements as a grazing system that addresses resource concerns associated on the land being contracted. AGM offers the choice to select a prescribed grazing enhancement as a base activity along with three additional supplemental enhancements to provide a resource management level approach. The additional enhancements are paid at a higher rate than the same enhancements if implemented alone.

A Resource Conserving Crop Rotation (RCCR) is a rotation that includes at least one resource-conserving crop that reduces erosion, improves soil fertility and tilth, interrupts pest cycles in applicable areas, reduces depletion of soil moisture or otherwise reduces the need for irrigation, and may provide protection and habitat for pollinators. An Improved Resource Conserving Crop Rotation builds on an existing RCCR.

Minimal Annual Payment
In any fiscal year that a contract’s payment amount total is less than the fiscal year’s minimum contract payment rate, the payment for the fiscal year will be the minimum contract payment rate. For FY2020, the minimum annual contract payment rate is $1,500.

Payment Limits
Regardless of the number of contracts entered into under the program, a person or legal entity may not receive, directly or indirectly, payments that, in the aggregate, exceed $200,000 under all conservation stewardship contracts entered into during fiscal years 2019 through 2023. An exception is provided by regulations for joint operations, which may receive up to $400,000 over the term of a contract period. There is no annual payment limit beyond these overall limits under the 2018 Farm Bill.