Time is running out for farmers and ranchers that want to participate in the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) this year. February 27th was the deadline for the 2015 round, but an extension to March 13 was just announced. Producers should visit their local NRCS office before that date to initiate the application process.
The CSP rewards farmers, ranchers, and foresters for maintaining existing conservation practices and for adopting additional practices on cropland, grassland, non-industrial private forestland and tribal lands. The program pays producers for fostering clean water, better soil management, improved habitat, and other natural resource benefits.
As part of the CSP application process, applicants work with NRCS field personnel to complete a resource inventory of their land to determine the conservation performance for existing and new conservation activities. The applicant's conservation performance will be used to determine eligibility, ranking and payments. Contracts are awarded to those offering the highest level of environmental benefits, with NRCS working down through the list of eligible applicants until acreage allocated to the particular state runs out.
In addition, producers who received a CSP contract in 2011 have the opportunity to renew their contract for another five-year period. Renewal applications must be received by March 31, 2015 to ensure a seamless transition into their next contract without a lapse in payments. Renewal contracts do not compete with new applicants.
Potential applicants can call the Center for Rural Affairs Farm Bill helpline by calling (402) 687-2100 or emailing Traci Bruckner at firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance from Center staff with knowledge about program rules.
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