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News Release

Apply by April 23 for Conservation Stewardship Program

Amy Overstreet
802-951-6796, ext 221

COLCHESTER, Jan. 13, 2021 – Agricultural producers and forestland operators wanting to enhance current conservation efforts are encouraged to apply for the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP). While applications for CSP are accepted year-round, applications must be received by April 23, 2021, to be considered for this funding period

Through CSP, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) helps private landowners build their business while implementing conservation practices that help ensure the sustainability of their entire operation. In FY 2020, Vermont NRCS allocated nearly $650,000 to private landowners through CSP. CSP provides many benefits, including increased crop yields, decreased inputs, wildlife habitat improvements, and increased resilience to adverse weather.

Vermont NRCS is also allocating $300,000 of the total $1.3 million in CSP funding to organic agriculture and/or organic forestland operators. For example, NRCS can assist maple syrup producers with the Sugar Bush Management practice that adds species diversity to sugar bush to enhance pollinator and wildlife needs. The goal is to maintain at least 20% of basal area in species other than sugar maple to provide species diversity. This assistance can also help enhance wildlife on pastureland or increase nesting habitat on cropland.

CSP is for Vermont working lands, including cropland, pastureland, rangeland, and nonindustrial private forest land. This fall, USDA released the final rule for CSP which better aligned the program with NRCS’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) through common applications, contracting operations, conservation planning, conservation practices, and related administrative procedures.

Through CSP, agricultural producers and forestland operators earn payments for actively managing, maintaining, and expanding conservation activities like cover crops, buffer strips, foreststand improvement, stream habitat improvement, and pollinator and beneficial insect habitat – all while maintaining active agriculture production on their land. CSP also encourages the adoption of cutting-edge technologies and new management techniques such as precision agriculture applications, on-site carbon storage and planting for high carbon sequestration rate, and new soil amendments to improve water quality.

Producers interested in CSP should contact their local USDA service center before the April 23 deadline.