If you are interested in the Conservation Stewardship Program for 2015, you have until February 27, 2015 to submit your initial application to your local NRCS office. If you submit your application after February 27, 2015, your application will be considered in 2016.
What is the Conservation Stewardship Program? It is a working lands program that rewards farmers and ranchers for conservation and environmental benefits they produce. NRCS has a self-screening checklist available to help you determine if the program is suitable for your operation.
CSP is a competitive program that aims to achieve environmental benefits by scoring and then financially rewarding CSP applicants with the highest conservation performance outcomes, based on current and planned future conservation activities. First you apply to see if you are eligible, then NRCS scores your current performance and future plans. If you already meet acceptable conservation levels, then you compete in a ranking process that determines who will receive contracts. 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 for that particular year runs out. At the national level in most years approximately twice as many farmers apply as get into the program in a given year, though there is some variation by state to that two to one ratio.
Signing up is simple. Head over to your local NRCS office and submit the initial application, which is a simple form.
Keep in mind that if you are applying as an entity (that is, a business), you must have a DUNS number (click here on information on how to obtain a DUNS number). Additionally, the entity will need to register with the System for Award Management. If you are applying as an individual and use your social security number as your Employer Identification Number (EIN), you do not need a DUNS number or register with SAM.
At this time, NRCS has not published updated information for the fiscal year 2015 sign-up, such as which enhancements are available to choose among or corresponding environmental benefit score. But don’t let that stop you from contacting your local NRCS office if you are interested.