During the Fiscal Year 2009 enrollment period, which ended Sept. 30, USDA received applications for over 33 million acres of land to be enrolled in the Conservation Stewardship Program. These numbers were announced by Dave White, chief of USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service, at a subcommittee hearing on farm bill conservation title implementation. The program was revised in the 2008 farm bill and accepts 12.769 million acres.
The revised CSP program is now available nationwide, rather than through a watershed-by-watershed rotation. Any producer in the United States can apply for the program, whether the land is in crops, pasture, rangeland, or even forest land, or a combination of those. The program rewards a producer's conservation stewardship by evaluating existing activities and providing incentives for producers to identify and adopt new conservation practices.
Senator Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, former chairman of the Senate Ag Committee, says this strong showing of applications for CSP demonstrates the high level of interest of farmers and ranchers across the country in incentives that help them conserve resources and protect the environment. Harkin says while the initial application period has ended, farmers can now apply to take part in CSP starting in fiscal year 2010.