Conservation Stewardship Funding Now Available to Farmers in 2013
Boise, Idaho – Farmers and ranchers will again have the opportunity to apply for the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), which rewards producers for conservation practices on working lands, thanks to passage of legislation last week. Funding for 2013 CSP enrollment was accidently cut off in the government-spending bill last October.
“It was unclear if there would be a Conservation Stewardship Program signup this year,” says Jennifer Miller, sustainable agriculture associate with the Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides. “Now producers can visit their local Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) offices and complete the initial application form before the growing season is in full swing. The first step doesn’t take long.”
The funding error was fixed by Congress and President Obama in late March with passage and signing of the Continuing Resolution, which provides funding for the federal government for the rest of the 2013 fiscal year.
Since 2009, 50 million acres nationwide have been enrolled in CSP, more than any other farm conservation program over that same period. Last year, 101 contracts for 256,000 acres in Oregon, 77 contracts for 195,000 acres in Washington, 63 contracts for 103,000 acres in Idaho, and 31 contracts for 31,000 acres in California were enrolled in the program.
Offered through five-year contracts, farmers and ranchers have used CSP to protect and improve water quality, soil health and wildlife habitat on land in current production. The program is available for all types of farm operations, including cropland, pastureland, rangeland or forested acres.
While CSP is a continuous signup program and producers can apply to enroll at any time of the year, USDA applies a cut-off date for applications to be considered during a particular fiscal year. Once the cut-off date is past, producers may continue to apply for the program, but they will not be considered for entry until the spring of the following year (in this case spring of 2014).
NRCS has yet to announce a deadline for applications, but there is speculation it will likely be in May.
“This funding fix allows more farmers and ranchers interested in protecting water quality, soil health, and wildlife habitat to participate in the program this year,” says Miller. “With a potentially short timeline, it is important to get into an NRCS office and start the process.”
Potential applicants can find their NRCS local service center at http://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov/locator/app?agency=nrcs.