USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) State Conservationist Jerry Raynor is encouraging landowners who want to participate in the FY21 Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) to start working with their local district conservationists now. While the application deadline is not currently set, Raynor anticipates an application deadline in late December.
CSP is the nation’s largest conservation program for producers who are already established stewards and who want to add more conservation benefits on their land, such as improved water and soil quality and enhanced wildlife habitat. In addition to general CSP funds, additional CSP funds are available through a targeted Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) project called the Big Pine Watershed Partnership. Applications are accepted year-round but interested producers should contact their local NRCS field office to start the conservation planning and application process early. Applications not submitted by deadlines are deferred for future consideration.
“CSP helps private landowners build their business while implementing conservation activities that help ensure the sustainability of their entire operation,” said Raynor. “The program provides many benefits including increased crop yields, decreased inputs, wildlife habitat improvements and increased resilience to weather extremes.”
Through CSP, agricultural producers and forest landowners earn payments for actively managing, maintaining, and expanding conservation activities like cover crops, ecologically-based pest management, forest 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 management techniques, such as precision agriculture applications and on-site carbon storage and planting for high carbon sequestration rate, and soil amendments to improve water quality.
CSP is for private working lands including cropland, pastureland, nonindustrial private forest land and agricultural land under the jurisdiction of a tribe. Agricultural producers wanting to enhance current conservation efforts on their land are encouraged to apply.