The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has announced an extension of the deadline for farmers and ranchers to apply to enroll in the Conservation Stewardship Program until Feb. 7. NRCS originally announced that applications for the fiscal year (FY) 2014 Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) sign up would be due by Jan. 17. The additional three weeks will provide interested farmers and ranchers an extra opportunity to submit their initial applications. Producers compete to get into the program, and successful applications are those that offer the highest conservation and environmental benefits.

The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) helped develop CSP and has followed its progress closely. In conjunction with the USDA announcement, NSAC has issued an Information Alert on the 2014 CSP sign-up. The document is available for free on the NSAC website or by clicking here (PDF).

In addition to providing the timeline for the sign-up and enrollment process, the Information Alert includes basic sign-up information, describes changes made to the program for the 2014 sign-up, and ranks the conservation practices and enhancements being offered by their environmental benefits score.

CSP is an innovative working lands conservation program that rewards farmer and ranchers for the conservation and environmental benefits they produce. CSP is administered by NRCS and available on a nationwide basis. CSP offers technical and financial assistance to farmers for adopting and maintaining high standards of resource conservation and environmental stewardship. Assistance is geared to both the active management of existing conservation systems and for implementing new conservation activities (called enhancements) on land in agricultural production.

In addition to the newly released Information Alert, producers will find more detailed information about CSP in NSAC’s Farmers’ Guide to the Conservation Stewardship Program also available for free download at

The Guide provides clear information on conservation activities eligible for CSP payments to improve conservation performance and environmental benefits. It also includes step-by-step enrollment guidance, key definitions, and helpful hints.

NSAC periodically analyzes CSP data from NRCS and makes this information available on its website. Recently, NSAC published a series of posts analyzing trends in CSP use across the country, looking at total enrollment, land management, and participation by beginning, socially disadvantaged, organic, and transitioning-to-organic producers from 2009-2012.