Farmers and ranchers have the opportunity to apply for the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), which rewards producers for conservation practices on working lands, thanks to passage of legislation that replaces funding for the 2013 CSP that was accidently cut off in the government spending bill that passed last October.
USDA can now proceed with enrolling just over 11 million acres of farm and ranch land in the program this year, bringing the program to a grand total of 62 million acres by year’s end.
The Center for Rural Affairs encourages potential applicants to move forward now, before planting season is underway and many become too busy in the field to get away. While CSP is a continuous signup program and producers can apply throughout the year, USDA applies a cut-off date for applications to be considered during a particular fiscal year. Once the cut-off date is past, producers may continue to apply for the program, but will not be considered for entry until the following spring, in this case spring 2014.
While the USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) has yet to decide on an application deadline, there is speculation it will be in May. That short timeline should provide further motivation for farmers and ranchers to visit their local NRCS office now and start the application (http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprdb1046193.pdf) process right away.
Producers can call (402) 687-2100 and ask for the Farm Bill Helpline or email firstname.lastname@example.org to access assistance from the Center for Rural Affairs in applying to CSP.