Deadline for CSP program set for March 2
The goal of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has always been to help people help their land. With programs such as the newly redesigned Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), agricultural producers have multiple opportunities to preserve their farm’s natural resources while continuing to better their operations.
CSP is a program through the Farm Bill that rewards participants for the existing conservation efforts being made on their operation, and further offers more rewards and funding to assist producers in going above and beyond with additional conservation endeavors. This program is one of the most popular and well-utilized programs that the NRCS has to offer.
“CSP is good for a variety of operations,” said Curt McDaniel, Assistant State Conservationist – Programs with Missouri USDA/NRCS, and when it comes to selecting new conservation practices to be put into place through the program, there are lots of activities producers can choose from.
McDaniel noted that some of the conservation practices that the CSP has helped farmers put into place include erosion control, no till, tree additions and planting of native pollinators, among many other beneficial practices.
He added that programs aren’t just for large producers. Whether you have 6 acres or 106 acres, you can apply for this program.
With the restructuring of the program, the CSP is all about the big picture of the eligible property – “we’re looking at the entire boundary of the ag operation,” said McDaniel. This includes all the timber stands, pastures, pond and creek banks, wooded draws, and more. The new program is also flexible with said boundary – USDA and NRCS staff understand the ever changing dynamics of a conservation-minded ag operation. Along with being accessible and flexible, the restructured CSP is also a more transparent and user-friendly program for both participants and staff.
The 2018 deadline for CSP sign-up is March 2.
To begin the application process, producers need to head to their local USDA Service Center; “Ask questions about the CSP, and pick up an information packet,” advised McDaniel.
Once the conversation at the service center has begun, farm records need to be up to date and in order with the Farm Service Agency to determine what land is eligible for the program. Producers applying for the program should also have as much data as possible to submit for things like livestock numbers and current conservation practices, and how their current practices are being implemented. After the deadline, evaluations begin, and, among other questions, producers will be asked to select conservation activities for the next one to five years for their farm.
The CSP is a competitive program, and the NRCS looks for high quality applications, so producers are encouraged to be creative and mindful with their conservation activity choices.
Once producers are chosen for participation, the application of new conservation practices can begin through a combination of assistance and communication with the NRCS, USDA, FSA and other agencies that are part of the NRCS/USDA family.
“We want to make sure Missouri farmers and ranchers know about the programs and sign up,” said Curt.