Ten Easy Steps to Participate in the Conservation Stewardship Program

For more information or to access our Farm Bill Helpline, contact Traci Bruckner at 402.687.2100 or tracib@cfra.org.

  1. The Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) is available nationwide and sign-up will be continuous with announced ranking period cutoff dates, so sign up anytime, but this year's (2009) cutoff date is September 30.

  2. Fill out the producer self-screening checklist. It is available at local Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) field offices and on the NRCS website or you can download the Producer Self-Screening Checklist here. Producers will complete the checklist independently to help them decide if they meet CSP eligibility requirements.

  3. Potential applicants who decide to apply for CSP will complete a Contract Program Application Form, and submit information on their operation. The extent of an applicant's agricultural operation will be based on how the applicant represents their operation for other USDA programs. Download the Contract Application Form here.

  4. Once applicant and land eligibility are determined, the NRCS field office will assist you with completing the Conservation Measurement Tool (CMT) resource inventory.

  5. The Conservation Measurement Tool (CMT) will estimate the level of environmental benefits to be achieved by the applicant. The applicant will be given a CMT conservation performance score that will enable NRCS to determine if the stewardship threshold requirement is met, rank applications, and establish payments.

  6. Applicants will be ranked relative to other applicants who face similar resource challenges in State-established ranking pools using conservation performance ranking scores.

  7. If you are deemed an approved applicant, NRCS will conduct an on-site field verification to ensure the conservation activity and production system information you provided is accurate.

  8. Once the conservation system information is verified, you will work with NRCS field staff to develop the conservation stewardship plan and contract.

  9. Upon approval, the contract will obligate that you achieve a higher level of conservation performance by installing additional activities scheduled in their conservation stewardship plan and to maintain the level of existing conservation performance identified at the time of application. For the initial sign-up, NRCS will consider you "enrolled" based on the fiscal year the application is submitted, once NRCS approves your contract. For subsequent ranking cut-off periods, NRCS will consider a participant enrolled in CSP based on the fiscal year the contract is approved.

  10. NRCS will make payments as soon as practical after October 1 of each fiscal year for activities carried out in the previous fiscal year. Your annual payment is determined using the conservation performance estimated by the CMT, and computed by land-use type for enrolled eligible land. A supplemental payment is also available if you agree to adopt a resource-conserving crop rotation.
  11. Click here to see the Conservation Stewardship Program's Conservation Activity List.

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