U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has $100 million available this year through the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP).
CSP is a voluntary program that provides financial and technical assistance to help farmers and ranchers conserve and enhance soil, water, air and related natural resources on their agricultural and forestry land.
Although applications are accepted all year, farmers, ranchers and forest landowners should submit applications by Feb. 27, to ensure they are considered for this year’s funding (applications received after that date will be considered for future funding).
This year’s investment may result in the enrollment of up to 7.7 million acres in the program by private landowners.
Brad Soncksen, acting NRCS state conservationist, encourages Nebraska farmers and ranchers not to miss out on this opportunity.
“The Conservation Stewardship Program is unique. CSP participants will receive an annual land use payment for the environmental benefits they produce on their operations. Under CSP, participants are paid for conservation performance—the higher the operational performance, the higher their payment,” Soncksen said.
According to Soncksen, CSP has been a very successful program for Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers. Over 2,300 CSP contracts occur in all 93 counties and cover 5.1 million acres in Nebraska.
“CSP is popular in Nebraska because farmers and ranchers don’t have to take land out of production to participate,” he said.
Eligible land includes cropland, grassland, prairie, improved pastureland, non-industrial private forestland and agricultural land under the jurisdiction of an Indian tribe.
Contracts are set at five years and include all the land controlled by an operator.
Applications should be submitted to local NRCS offices. As part of the CSP application process, applicants will work with NRCS personnel to complete a resource inventory of their land, which will help determine the performance of existing and new conservation activities.
The applicant’s conservation performance will be used to determine eligibility, ranking and payments.