The Conservation Security Program (CSP) has taken nearly two years to implement after its inclusion in the 2002 Farm Bill. And Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) remains committed to implementing the program in fiscal year 2004.
In May, NRCS announced it would be using watersheds as a way to prioritize the vast pool of producers down to fewer applicants. A few weeks ago 18 priority watersheds across the country were selected to be the starting ground for the first ever payment designed to reward producers for going above and beyond on their farm's conservation needs.
Producers are now receiving the latest tool, a self-assessment workbook, to help them implement the program quickly and efficiently. NRCS Chief Bruce Knight explains that delivery is key to the CSP program. The workbook is available by CD-ROM, online or even by paper. "The producer will fill in all the information that provides the base of where they are on that farm operation," Knight explains.
Knight goes on to say that he's had to pay people a good sum of money to sit down with a producer and ask them questions about everything ranging from erosion levels to if they use no-till. Delivery costs will be vastly reduced and accuracy improved, he says, and as a result eventually revolutionizing the entire program.
The initial self-assessment will help producers identify whether their individual agricultural operation meets sign-up criteria and answer the question, "Do I address minimum soil and water quality criteria on the land I manage?" By going through the workbook, producers will get a good idea about whether they are eligible for CSP at this time. Producers who may not be eligible can find out about programs that can help them achieve a higher level of conservation so that they may apply for CSP in the future.
NRCS provides up-to-date technology, tools and resource information to meet the conservation needs of the Nation's producers. Soil quality assessment information found by clicking HERE includes the Soil Conditioning Index, a tool used to predict the consequences of cropping systems and tillage practices on the status of soil organic matter. Water quality resources including a Manure Management Planner are found online by clicking HERE.
The CSP self-assessment workbook is available in hardcopy or compact disk (CD) from local NRCS offices within the 18 selected watersheds. It also is available online at www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/csp at an interactive site that allows producers to log on and off at their convenience to complete the workbook at their own pace.