Skip Navigation

Conservation Stewardship Program

CSP AssistanceWhat is the Conservation Stewardship Program? The Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) is a voluntary farming and ranching conservation program that encourages the natural resource management of soil, water, animals (livestock and wildlife), plants, air and energy use, in a comprehensive manner, from application through the life of a funded contract.

Agricultural producers enrolling their operations in CSP must 1) maintain the existing base level of conservation stewardship, as determined by NRCS at the time of program application, through the life of the contract, and 2) agree to improve upon the existing conservation activities by implementing additional conservation activities offered through CSP.

Private agricultural lands, tribal lands, and non-industrial private forest land use types may be enrolled into CSP, including cropland, pastureland, rangeland, Associated Agricultural lands, and Farmstead lands. 

How does CSP work? CSP is designed to evaluate the existing conservation stewardship level of a farming and/or ranching operation at the time of application. The evaluation will help identify additional conservation activities that could improve the operation’s natural resource management.

After submitting a CSP application to the local NRCS field office, including all applicant and land eligibility documentation required, an NRCS conservation planner works with the applicant “one-on-one” to evaluate current management systems and field conditions of natural resources on the agricultural operation.

Based on information provided by the applicant, NRCS determines if the agricultural management activities meet the CSP stewardship threshold eligibility requirements. NRCS enters the applicant’s management activity data into a software program called the Conservation Activity Evaluation Tool (CAET). CAET determines the stewardship level of the agricultural operations by identifying resource concerns per land use type that meet and do not meet the CSP stewardship threshold eligibility. CAET also generates a list of conservation activities, per resource concern and land use type, that may be considered to meet stewardship eligibility.     

For example, if a producer has been implementing prescribed grazing, but does not meet the CSP stewardship eligibility requirement for prescribed grazing, CSP provides additional activities to meet the requirement. Such as, grazing management to improve plants for wildlife, grazing management to reduce soil compaction, or grazing management to improve riparian function. Furthermore, CSP offers an annual incentive payment for installing the additional conservation activities.

What does stewardship threshold mean?  The stewardship threshold means the level of management required to conserve and improve the quality and condition of a natural resource. An applicant’s operation must meet the stewardship threshold for at least two resource concerns per land use type at application, and meet or exceed the stewardship threshold for at least one additional resource concern per land use type by the end of the contract.  SEE Table 1.1 for Resource Concerns applicable to each land use type that may be enrolled in CSP. 

Table 1.1 

CSP Resource Concerns

Crop Land

Pasture Land

Range Land

Associated Agricultural Land

Farmstead Land

Non-Industrial    Private Forestland

Soil Erosion

X

X

X

X

X

X

Soil Quality Degradation

X

X

X

X

X

X

Excess Water

X

X

X

X

X

X

Insufficient Water

X

X

NA

X

X

X

Water Quality Impacts

X

X

X

X

X

X

Air Quality Impacts

X

X

X

X

X

X

Degraded Plant Condition

X

X

X

X

X

X

Fish & Wildlife Inadequate Habitat

X

X

X

X

X

X

Livestock Production Limitation

X

X

X

X

NA

X

Inefficient Energy Use

X

X

NA

X

X

X

TOTAL

10

10

8

10

9

10

Who is a good fit for CSP? CSP is a good fit for agricultural producers who have previously implemented conservation practices on their lands through other USDA NRCS conservation programs like the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), or may have completed a prior CSP contract.  The current CSP application sign-up will close on March 2, 2018. Applications may be submitted for CSP at a local USDA Service Center NRCS Field Office.

Who is eligible?  CSP is open to individuals, entities, and Indian Tribes operating working agricultural lands (farms and/or ranches) or non-industrial private forest land. Applicants must be the operator of record in the Farm Service Agency (FSA) farm records management system for the agricultural land being enrolled in CSP. The applicant must have effective control of the lands for the life of the contract, be compliant with the highly erodible land (HEL) and wetland conservation (WC) provisions, and be compliant with payment eligibility provisions, including the adjusted gross income (AGI) provision. Entities operating under an EIN must have a current DUNS-SAM registration as applicable to the 2014 Farm Bill. Other information about participation in the program is included in the Application NRCS-CPA-1200 form and the NRCS-CPA-1202 Appendix

In addition, CSP provides opportunities for historically underserved (HU) groups to participate, such as beginning farmers and ranchers and socially disadvantaged producers. Nationally, the program aims to enroll at least five percent of total program acres operated by beginning farmers and ranchers, and another five percent operated by socially disadvantaged producers. Within each specified geographic area and land use, beginning farmers and ranchers and socially disadvantaged producers will have a separate funding-ranking pool. Additionally, preference will be given to HU veteran farmers or ranchers who compete for a CSP contract.

What types of land are eligible?  A CSP application must include all lands in an applicant’s agricultural operation regardless of location. An applicant must have effective control of land for the life of the five year contract. Eligible land includes crop, pasture, range, non-industrial private forest lands, Associated Agricultural lands, and Farmstead lands, Agricultural Land Easements (ALE), and Conservation Reserve Program in some cases.

CSP Contracts and Payments:  The program represents a genuine commitment to conservation stewardship. CSP contracts are five years, with the option to renew a contract one time if the initial contract is completed. CSP applications are accepted continuously throughout the year. Specific application sign-up ranking periods are announced periodically when applicable.

Contract payments are based on three components:  1) Existing Annual Payment – Payments to maintain the existing conservation activities are based on the land use type and number of resource concerns that are meeting the stewardship level at the time of application; 2) Additional Activity Payment – Payments to implement additional conservation activities are based on selected enhancements, bundles, and practices scheduled in a contract. Additional payment amounts will be made based on payment schedules, similar to other NRCS assistance programs like the Environmental Quality Incentives Program; and, 3) Supplemental Paymentif applicable, to a participant who agrees to adopt or improve a resource conserving crop rotation on cropland. Supplemental payment is based on the additional labor required to adopt or improve a resource conserving crop rotation.  Click here for current CStwP Payment Schedules

How do you apply for CSP?  Please visit a local USDA Service Center about applying for CSP at the NRCS Field Office, or apply on-line at the Conservation Client Gateway at the following link: https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/national/cgate/

4 Reasons for Client Gateway

 

To learn more about applying for financial assistance through NRCS, please visit the “Getting Started with NRCS” web page at the following link: www.nrcs.usda.gov/getstarted

5 Steps to Assistance

 

More Information: For the latest updates about CSP, please visit the NRCS National CSP public website at the link: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/national/programs/financial/csp/

CSP Contact

For more information about CSP in Nevada, contact:
Susan Looper, CSP Program Manager
Email:  susan.looper@nv.usda.gov
Phone: (775) 857-8500, extension 106

###

We would be pleased to provide information on this Web site in an alternative format, if needed. Please contact Jonnie Eyler, Webmaster, at (775) 857-8500 ext. 100.