The Conservation Stewardship Program is extending the sign-up period to February 7, 2014. But for many, the question remains: what is the Conservation Stewardship Program?
The Program, or CSP, is run by the National Resource Conservation Service. CSP is a voluntary program that encourages resource conservation via: (1) undertaking additional conservation activities, and (2) improving or maintaining existing conservation activities. Unlike some programs, CSP is available to a producer regardless of the size of the operation or crops produced.
Eligible lands include cropland, grassland, prairie land, improved pastureland, rangeland, nonindustrial private forest land, and agricultural land under the jurisdiction of an Indian tribe.
Additionally, the higher the conservation performance, the higher the payment for participation in CSP. There may be more than one CSP contract at any given time. However, payments are capped at $40,000 in any year and not more than $200,000 in any five year period. Those receiving payments may be individuals, legal entities (e.g. S-Corp, LLC etc.), joint operations, or Indian tribes. The contract limit (the amount paid for a contract) is the same as the payment limit above, except joint operations which have an $80,000 per year contract limit and $400,000 over the term of the contract period.
Payment comes in two forms: the first, an annual payment for instituting or maintaining a conservation practice. The second is a supplemental payment for instituting a a resourcing conserving crop rotation.
More information can be found on this Fact Sheet about CSP from NRCS. If you are curious about whether CSP is a program that may work in your operation, this checklist is a good resource. We’re also here to answer any questions you may have so feel free to contact us!