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News Release

Good Stewardship Pays with CSP: Sign Up Today

RICHMOND, Va., March 24, 2021 – As business owners, farmers often turn to value-added services like on-farm stores or agritourism to market directly to customers and make their operations more profitable. Conservation practices can pack much the same punch on the productivity front.

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) offers a “pay for performance” program that rewards established stewards of the land for taking their management activities to a higher level. Agricultural producers and forest landowners can earn payments through the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) for actively maintaining and expanding existing conservation activities while continuing agricultural production on their land.

CSP participants are actually building their businesses while implementing practices like cover crops, buffer strips, pollinator habitat and enhanced nutrient management to enhance the sustainability of the entire operation. They can get annual Existing Activity Payments (EAPs) for upkeep on conservation activities to address resource concerns met at the time of application and benefit from these additional options now available due to changes in the 2018 Farm Bill:

  • New supplemental payment for advanced grazing management

  • Higher payment rates for certain conservation measures, including cover crops and
    resource-conserving crop rotations

  • Specific support for organic operations and those transitioning to organic production.

“Virginia currently has over 224,000 acres enrolled in the Conservation Stewardship Program,” said State Conservationist Dr. Edwin Martinez Martinez. “Our conservationists are now helping more than 550 agricultural producers and forest landowners address priority resource concerns while improving their operations and reaping environmental benefits that extend to the community at large.” 

CSP is for working lands (crop, pasture, nonindustrial forest and tribal ag land) and also encourages the adoption of cutting-edge technologies and new management techniques such as precision agriculture applications and new soil amendments to improve water quality.

While NRCS conducts continuous sign-ups for the program, interested producers must submit their applications by April 30, 2021, to be considered for FY21 funding. Producers interested in CSP should contact their local USDA service center or visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/GetStarted.