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Conservation Stewardship Program

Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP)

 

 

 

 

NEW! For FY 2020 funding, CSP applications are due by May 29, 2020. Read more here.

Conservation Stewardship Program

Your Stewardship Goals. Our Assistance.

Have you ever looked across your property and thought about some land management goals you would like to take to the next level? Maybe we can help.

Together we can develop a plan tailored to your operation and your goals to help you increase productivity and protect the value of your land.

How It Works

Our Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) helps you build on your existing conservation efforts while strengthening your operation.  Whether you are looking to improve grazing conditions, increase crop resiliency, or develop wildlife habitat, we can custom design a CSP plan to help you meet those goals. We can help you identify natural resource problems in your operation and provide technical and financial assistance to solve those problems or attain higher stewardship levels in an environmentally beneficial and cost-effective manner. For example, we can look at ways to address the amount of soil lost; mitigate the impact of excess water; reduce the contribution of agricultural operations to airborne soil particles and greenhouse gas emissions; improve the cover, food, and water available for domestic and wildlife species; or promote energy efficiencies for on-farm activities. If you are already taking steps to improve the condition of the land, chances are CSP can help you find new ways to meet your goals.

Benefits

CSP is for working lands. It is the largest conservation program in the United States. Thousands of people voluntarily enroll in the program because it helps them enhance natural resources and improve their business operation.

CSP participants are seeing real results.  Some of these benefits include:

  • Enhanced resiliency to weather and market volatility
  • Decreased need for agricultural inputs
  • Improved wildlife habitat conditions

New 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 Enhancements and Bundles

Enhancements

The Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) is for producers who want to take their conservation efforts to the next level. Most CSP applicants have already been applying conservation practices to their land. Through CSP, producers have the opportunity to further improve their conservation efforts with conservation activities called “enhancements.” Enhancements allow a producer to address additional levels of conservation beyond what the minimum conservation practice standard requires. CSP applicants work on-one-one with their NRCS conservation planner to select enhancements that best fit their management goals and that will address resource concerns on the enrolled operation.

Through CSP, producers can choose from approximately 140 enhancements to address resource concerns on their operation. Conservation practice standards and quality criteria for resource concerns can be found in sections II and III of the  Field Office Technical Guide 

Bundles

CSP applicants who want to increase their conservation stewardship even further may consider “bundles” of enhancement activities. Some enhancements work together to provide increased conservation benefits when they are implemented as a group. Producers may consider adopting these enhancement groups or “bundles” on their operation.

Each bundle has three or more required enhancements, and for some bundles, the applicant has the option to pick additional enhancements from a select list that addresses specific resource concerns.

Bundles have enhancements grouped according to land use – crop, pasture, range and forest, as well as agency initiatives such as Long Leaf Pine, Mississippi River Basin, Buffers, and Working Lands for Wildlife. Bundles receive a higher level of financial assistance to encourage the holistic approach to generate additional conservation benefits.

Producers interested in implementing enhancements or bundles on their property can visit with their local NRCS conservation planner to learn more about them.

FY 2020 Enhancements and Bundles

Coming soon.

Enhancements and Bundles Archive

2019 Enhancements and Bundles

2018 Enhancements and Bundles

2017 Enhancements and Bundles

Comprehensive Conservation Plan

The 2018 Farm Bill includes a new conservation activity for producers to develop a comprehensive conservation plan (CCP) as part of their CSP contract. A CCP is a conservation plan that meets or exceeds the stewardship threshold for each priority resource concern identified by NRCS across all land uses included in the operation. NRCS will administer CCPs similar to the conservation activity plans (CAPs) under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and require producers to use a technical service provider (TSP) to develop the plan.

Enhancements are management activities that go above and beyond the minimum conservation practice standard requirements helping the producer achieve a higher level of conservation. 

National CSP Web Page

Payment Schedules

Payment Schedules Web Page

CSP Sign-Up

 

How Do I Apply?

If you're ready to take your conservation efforts to the next level we are here to help. NRCS accepts applications for the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) at any time throughout the year. NRCS sets specific deadlines for ranking and funding opportunities.  Contact your local NRCS field office for more information. 

Preparing Your Application

Applications must include all agricultural or private forest land in your operation that you will have control of for the 5-year term of the CSP contract. You need to establish farm records with the Farm Service Agency for these lands before NRCS will be able to evaluate your application. You will need to identify all land in your operation when you meet with an NRCS representative. 

Evaluating the Application

Once you request assistance or complete an application, the local NRCS conservation planner will have a one-on-one consultation with you to evaluate your current management system and the natural resources on your land using the Conservation Assessment and Ranking Tool (CART).  Eligible lands will be identified and the number of resource concerns that are currently meeting CSP stewardship thresholds will be determined.  Each applicant must meet the stewardship threshold for at least two resource concerns on each land use at the time of application.  The applicant must also agree to address one additional resource concern for each land use by the end of the contract to be eligible.

The NRCS conservation planner will present a variety of CSP conservation activities for you to consider implementing on your land, based on the resource stewardship thresholds you would like to meet or exceed. The variety of CSP conservation activities that are offered give you many options for selecting enhancements, practices, or bundles that help you improve your current management system, increase your profits, and meet your stewardship goals.  These improvements work naturally with your land to bring out your land’s best potential.

Application Ranking

Once NRCS completes an assessment of your operation  and you choose the conservation activities you will implement, NRCS will rank your application to determine how well your current and future management system will address national, state, and local natural resource priorities.  NRCS will rank your application against other eligible applications that have similar resource challenges in the same local ranking pool, with the highest scoring applications receiving contract offers first.

Ranking questions for your local area will be posted as they become available.