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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                                                               CONTACT: Walter Marshall
                                                                                                                                                                                                     Public Affairs Specialist


Applications Will Be Accepted Through January 21, 2011

WARWICK, RI (November 3, 2010) � The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has extended the ranking period cut-off date for producers to apply for the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) to January 21, 2011. CSP is a voluntary program that encourages agricultural and forestry producers to maintain existing conservation activities and adopt additional ones on their operations.

NRCS Chief Dave White said, �We�re extending the deadline for applications to CSP to provide agricultural producers more time to complete their applications,� said White. �This will help farmers, ranchers and forestry producers by giving them more time and hopefully allow even more producers to participate in this program.�

CSP has been a very successful program for Rhode Island�s farmers and forest landowners, according to R. Phou Vongkhamdy, NRCS state conservationist, �So far, Rhode Island has 32 CSP contracts covering over 4,000 acres. The average contract earns $1,200 a year,� said Vongkhamdy. �CSP is especially applicable to agricultural and forest landowners who have implemented conservation plans on their private lands. Under CSP, participants receive an annual land use payment for the environmental benefits they produce on their operation. Under CSP, participants are paid for conservation performance - the higher the operational performance, the higher their payment.�

CSP is available statewide. The program provides many conservation benefits including improvement of water and soil quality, wildlife habitat enhancement and adoption of conservation practices that address the effects of climate change.

Producers are encouraged to apply for CSP at their local NRCS office. The program, authorized in the 2008 Farm Bill, offers payments to producers who maintain a high level of conservation on their land and who agree to adopt higher levels of stewardship. Eligible land includes cropland, grassland, prairie, improved pastureland, non-industrial private forestland, and agricultural land under the jurisdiction of an Indian tribe. Additional assistance is available to beginning or socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers.

A CSP self-screening checklist is available to help producers determine if CSP is suitable for their operation. The checklist highlights basic information about CSP eligibility requirements, contract obligations and potential payments. It is available from local NRCS offices or online at