Skip Navigation

Conservation Stewardship Program

 

Conservation Stewardship Program


About CSP

The Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) is a voluntary conservation program that encourages producers to address resource concerns in a comprehensive manner by undertaking additional conservation activities and improving, maintaining, and managing existing conservation activities.

CSP is for working lands. It is the largest conservation program in the United States, with more than 70 million acres of productive agricultural and forest land enrolled in the program. Thousands of people have made the choice to voluntarily enroll in the program because it helps them enhance natural resources and improve their business operation.

Application deadline to be considered for 2021 funding is November 20, 2020. However, applications for CSP are accepted year-round.  For more information please visit the NRCS National CSP Site.

Benefits

Through CSP, we can help you build your business while implementing conservation practices that will help ensure the sustainability of your entire operation. Good land stewardship not only conserves the natural resources on your farm, ranch or forest, it also provides multiple benefits to local communities, including better water and air quality, as well as food and fiber. Eligible lands include cropland, pasture lands, rangeland, farmsteads, and non-industrial private forest lands. It includes agricultural land under the jurisdiction of an Indian tribe. The program also provides equitable access to all producers, regardless of operation size, crops produced, or geographic location.

Program participants take additional steps to improve resource condition including soil, water, air, plant, animal, and energy resources. Program participants are seeing:

  • Improved cattle gains per acre;
  • Increased crop yields;
  • Decreased inputs;
  • Wildlife population improvements; and
  • Better resilience to weather extremes.

Conservation Activities

Conservation activities include conservation practices, enhancements, and enhancement bundles.

Conservation practices must meet the criteria in the conservation practice standards and specifications available in the Field Office Technical Guide (FOTG)

  • Enhancements are a conservation activity used to treat natural resource concerns and improve producer conservation performance.  Enhancement adoption results in environmental benefits that are equal to or greater than the performance level for the planning criteria identified for a given resource concern
  • Enhancement Bundles are specific enhancements whose installation as a group produce conservation performance improvement and address resource concerns in a more comprehensive and cost-effective manner
  • 2021 CSP Activity List - enhancement, practices, and bundles

Eligibility

Applicant Eligibility – Applicants may include individuals, legal entities, or joint operations. All CSP applications must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • Be the operator, owner, or other tenant of an agricultural operation in the Farm Service Agency (FSA) farm records management system.  Note: Producers must establish or update records with FSA before NRCS will consider them eligible.
  • Have effective control of the land (as defined in the CSP regulation at 7CFR Part 1470) and include all eligible land in their entire operation in their contract.
  • Comply with highly erodible land and wetland conservation provisions and comply with Adjusted Gross Income provisions.
  • Comply with provisions for protecting the interests of tenants and sharecroppers, including the provisions for sharing payments on a fair and equitable basis.

Land Eligibility – CSP is available to all producers, regardless of operation size or type of crops produced. Eligible lands include private agricultural lands (crop, pasture, and rangeland), nonindustrial private forest land (NIPF), associated agricultural land, and farmstead. Public land associated with the land uses described above is eligible, if under the effective control of the applicant, and if a working component of the producer’s agricultural or NIPF operation.  Producers must have effective control of the land for the term of the proposed contract. Contracts must include all eligible land associated with the applicants agricultural or NIPF operation.

Stewardship Threshold Eligibility – NRCS will use the Conservation Assessment and Ranking Tool (CART) to determine whether or not the applicant is addressing resource concerns in order to meet the stewardship eligibility requirement. An applicant's conservation activities must meet or exceed the stewardship threshold on all land uses for both of the following:

  • At least two resource concerns at the time of contract offer.
  • At least one additional resource concern by the end of the conservation stewardship contract.

Additional restrictions and program requirements may apply.

CSP Application Deadlines:

March 20, 2020

2021-1-Renewal application batching cut-off date for 2016-1 contracts.

October 16, 2020

2021-1 Grassland Conservation Initiative (GCI) application batching cut-off date.

October 16, 2020

Deadline for expiring 2015-1 participants to apply for renewal.

November 20, 2020

2020-1 CSP Classic, application batching cut-off date

December 4, 2020

2021-1-Renewal, complete application assessment and ranking in the Conservation Assessment Ranking Tool (CART).

December 31, 2020

2021-1 Grassland Conservation Initiative (GCI) obligation deadline.

TBD

2020-1-Renewal Obligation Deadline for participants with expiring 2015-1 and 2016-1 contracts.

January 15, 2021

2021-1 CSP Classic eligibility filing deadline

February 26, 2021

2022-1 CSP Classic, complete application assessment and ranking in the Conservation Assessment Ranking Tool (CART).

May 28, 2021

2022-1 CSP Classic Obligation Deadline.

 

 

CSP Grasslands Conservation Initiative

This new initiative assists producers in protecting grazing land uses, conserving and improving soil, water and wildlife resources and achieving related conservation values by conserving eligible land through grassland conservation contracts. Eligible lands are limited to cropland for which base acres have been maintained under FSA’s ARC/PLC and were planted to grass or pasture, including idle or fallow, during a specific period. Enrolled acreage must be managed consistently with a grassland conservation plan. Producers will have a single opportunity to enroll eligible land in a five-year contract.

CSP Renewals

Existing CSP participants may be eligible to renew their contract for an additional 5-year term during the fifth year of their initial contract. Participants who have met the terms of their initial contract and who agree to implement more conservation activities will now be ranked and compete for a renewal contract. To meet the renewal stewardship threshold, the participant must agree to meet or exceed two additional priority resource concerns or agree to adopt or improve conservation activities to achieve higher levels of conservation on two existing priority resource concerns.

CSP Payments

Participating in the program represents a genuine commitment to conservation. Contracts are for five years with the option to renew if you successfully fulfill the initial contract and agree to achieve additional conservation objectives. 

How do I Apply

If you're ready to take your conservation efforts to the next level we are here to help.

NRCS accepts CSP application on a continuous basis. Applicants must submit Form NRCS‐CPA‐1200, “Conservation Program Application,” and a map delineating the entire agricultural or NIPF operation. Agricultural land applications will compete separately from nonindustrial private forest land (NIPF) applications. An applicant with both NIPF and agricultural land can submit one application for NIPF, one for agricultural land, or two applications (one for each land type). Applicants requesting consideration as a veteran, socially disadvantaged, or beginning farmer or rancher must self‐certify by marking all applicable status boxes on Form NRCS‐CPA‐1200.

The producer must provide as part of their application A map that identifies and delineates the boundaries of all eligible land uses and acres in the operation. Identify any ineligible land that is part of the operation – may be on a map or other documentation.

Form: NRCS-CPA-1200 Conservation Program Contract

The application batching period for funding consideration in fiscal year 2021 will end on November 20, 2020.

Application Ranking

Eligible applications that meet the stewardship threshold eligibility requirements will be ranked using the Conservation, Assessment, and Ranking Tool (CART). NRCS ranks CSP applications based on the following factors:

  • Level of conservation treatment on all targeted resource concerns at the time of application.
  • Degree to which proposed conservation activities effectively increase conservation performance.
  • Number of, and extent to which, targeted and non-targeted resource concerns will be treated by the end of the contract.
  • 2021 - Ranking Ag Lands
  • 2021 - Ranking - NIPF  
  • 2021 - Organic

NOTE: Three additional priority resource concerns will be identified and posted by November 20th as now required by program changes in the CSP Program Final Rule recently published.

The five targeted resource concerns for Ag Land and Organic selected for Utah are:

  • Livestock Production Limitation
  • Field Sediment, Nutrient, and Pathogen Loss
  • Source Water Depletion
  • Soil Quality Limitation
  • Terrestrial Habitat

The five targeted resource concerns for Non-Industrial Private Forest (NIPF) for Utah are:

  • Livestock Production Limitation
  • Degraded Plant Condition
  • Source Water Depletion
  • Fire Management
  • Terrestrial Habitat

Benefits to Participants:

Subject to the availability of funds, participants will receive one payment per fiscal year of the contract, as soon as practicable after October 1, which includes:

  • An annual payment for maintaining and managing existing conservation activities.
  • Payments for installing and adopting additional conservation activities.
  • Supplemental payments on cropland where a resource conserving crop rotation has been adopted or improved.
  • Payment for conservation activities will be made in accordance with the FY20 Payment Schedule.

Payment Limit: Each conservation stewardship contract with a person or legal entity will be limited to $200,000 over the term of the initial contract period. Conservation stewardship contracts with joint operations (FSA business type 2 or 3) may have a contract limit of up to $400,000 over the term of the initial contract period

Helpful Links:

More Information:

Find a local USDA Service Center.

Utah Conservation Stewardship Program contacts: