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.
No one knows more about your land than you do, and no one knows more about conservation than we do. Together we can develop a plan tailored to your land and your goals to help you increase productivity and protect the value of your land.
The 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 yields, or develop wildlife habitat, we can custom design a CSP plan to help you meet those goals.
CSP is for working lands. It’s the largest conservation program in the United States with more than 70 million acres of productive agricultural and forest land enrolled. 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.
How Does CSP Work?
Most agricultural and forestry producers that are approved to participate in CSP have already been implementing conservation practices on their land. CSP offers more than 200 enhancements for those practices. For example, if you have been practicing prescribed grazing, CSP would give you options to enhance that practice with activities such as grazing management to improve plants for wildlife, or grazing management to reduce soil compaction, or grazing management to improve riparian function, just to name a few.
If you decide to enroll in CSP, 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 agricultural or forestry operation. Then the NRCS conservation planner will determine if current activities on your agricultural or forestry operation meets stewardship eligibility and will assist you in identifying additional enhancements to consider based on your existing conservation practices.
Once you choose the enhancements that best fit your operation, CSP offers annual incentive payments for installing these activities on your land. If you want to take it even a step further, CSP also offers bundles where you can select a suite of enhancements.
Once your operation has been evaluated, is found eligible for CSP, and you have chosen the conservation activities you will adopt, your application will be ranked to determine how well your current and future management system will address national, state, and local natural resource priorities. Your application will be rated against other eligible applications that have similar resource challenges in the same local funding pool, with the highest scoring applications receiving contract offers first.
In addition, CSP provides opportunities for beginning farmers and socially disadvantaged producers. In Ohio, beginning farmers and socially disadvantaged producers will have a separate funding pool.
Enhancements are management activities that go above and beyond the minimum conservation practice standard requirements helping the producer achieve a higher level of conservation. For detailed information on implementation criteria and documentation requirements of specific enhancements, please visit the National CSP website where complete list of enhancements and the criteria for implementation may be found. Click on the land use image below to view the CSP enhancements.
Are you eligible? CSP is available to all producers, regardless of operation size or type of crops produced. Applicants may include individuals, legal entities, and joint ventures operating production agricultural land or non-industrial private forest land (NIPF).
To participate in CSP, you must be in compliance with highly erodible land and wetland conservation requirements, and have current farm records with USDA Farm Service Agency. You must have effective control of the land for the term of the proposed contract, be actively engaged in the day-to-day management of the operation and share in the risks associated with production.
Additional program requirements may apply.
Is your land eligible? Your application must include all agricultural or private forest land in your operation that you will control for the 5 year term of the CSP contract. Farm records must be established with the Farm Service Agency for these lands for your application to be evaluated. You should be prepared to identify all land in your operation on maps with an NRCS representative. The maps will help you and NRCS determine land eligible for enrollment, payment, and if you have one or more operations to offer for enrollment. Eligible land includes private cropland, pastureland, non-industrial private forestland, associated agricultural land, and farmsteads.
Do you meet required stewardship thresholds? You must be meeting the stewardship threshold for at least two resource concerns on each land management system at the time of application. You must also agree to address one additional resource concern for each land use by the end of the contract to be considered eligible.
CSP Contracts and Payments
Participating in the CSP represents a genuine commitment to conservation. CSP contracts are for five years, with the option to renew if you successfully fulfill the initial contract and agree to achieve additional conservation objectives. An NRCS conservation planner will work closely with you throughout the entire process.
Contract payments are based on two components:
Payments to maintain the existing conservation based on the operation type and number of resource concerns that are meeting the stewardship level at the time of application and
Payments to implement additional conservation activities.
We will make a $1,500 minimum payment to a CSP contract in any fiscal year that the contract’s payment amount total is less than $1,500. Certain restrictions apply.
You will be required to maintain the stewardship level of the resource concerns you are already meeting, plus meet or exceed at least one additional resource concern in each land use by the end of the contract. If the objectives of the initial CSP contract are achieved, you may be eligible to re-enroll for an additional 5 year contract if you agree to adopt additional conservation activities to meet or exceed two additional targeted resource concerns.
How Do I Apply?
If you're ready to take your conservation efforts to the next level we are here to help. Applications are accepted throughout the year. Specific deadlines are set for ranking and funding opportunities. Contact your local NRCS field office for more information.
Fifteen years of experience and evolution in the program bring us to where we are today, poised to deliver improvements to a program that kicks conservation up another notch. We hope you will consider the CSP to help you build your business while implementing conservation activities that help ensure the sustainability of your entire operation and our natural resources.