On Thursday USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan that continuous sign-up for the new Conservation Stewardship Program will begin on Aug. 10 with the first signup period cutoff scheduled for Sept. 30. CSP is a voluntary program authorized by the 2008 Farm Bill that encourages agricultural and forestry producers to maintain existing conservation activities and adopt additional ones on their operations.
"This program will help the Nation's agricultural and forestry producers reach greater levels of conservation performance, which will help protect our land and water," Merrigan said. "The conservation benefits derived from maintaining and enhancing natural resources will improve the quality of soil and water, assist in addressing global climate change, and encourage environmentally responsible energy production."
USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) administers CSP, with eligible lands including cropland, grassland, prairie, improved pastureland, rangeland, non-industrial private forestland-a new land use for the program-and agricultural land under the jurisdiction of an Indian tribe. Agricultural and forestry producers must submit applications by Sept. 30 to be considered for funding in the first ranking period. Congress capped the annual acreage enrollment at 12,769,000 acres for each fiscal year nationwide.
USDA is finalizing the program's policies and procedures. The CSP interim final rule, published in the Federal Register, is open for public comment through Sept. 28. For information about CSP, including eligibility requirements, producers can visit http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/new_csp or visit their local NRCS field office.