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News Release

New Year, New Opportunities for Virginia Farmers to Reap Rewards for Conservation Performance

Julie Hawkins

Richmond, VA, January 3, 2017 – USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is now offering Virginia farmers and forestry producers more options for taking their land management to the next level with the new and improved Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP).

The updated CSP offers nearly double the enhancements and practices along with better reporting tools to help producers track the impacts of their conservation efforts. New software for evaluating applications will help landowners quickly see whether they are meeting stewardship thresholds and view potential payment scenarios for conservation early in the process.

NRCS accepts CSP applications throughout the year but makes funding selections at specific times. Interested individuals should contact their local service center and submit an application by February 3 to be eligible for FY17 funding.

“Virginia farmers participate in CSP because it offers conservation benefits while helping to increase the efficiency and productivity of their operations,” says State Conservationist Jack Bricker. “With these improvements, we’ve made a good program even better. It’s more user friendly and offers greater flexibility to address local issues and priorities.”

Participants can maintain agricultural production while earning payments for actively managing, maintaining, and expanding conservation activities like cover crops, buffer strips, and pollinator and beneficial insect habitat. Farmers can also participate in regional conservation efforts for the Longleaf Pine Initiative and adopt cutting-edge technologies and new management techniques like precision agriculture, planting for high carbon sequestration, and soil amendments to improve water quality.

Visit the new CSP portal, located at, to learn about available opportunities and to determine whether CSP is right for you. This one-stop shop also offers enhancement descriptions and information on national and state ranking questions, and will be continually updated as more information becomes available. 

Learn about technical and financial assistance available through conservation programs, by visiting or a local USDA service center.