HARRISBURG, PENNSYLVANIA - Ag producers and non-industrial forestland owners may be eligible to receive payments to maintain high levels of conservation on their land and adopt higher levels of stewardship through USDA's Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP). But, they must act soon; the application deadline is January 7, 2011.


CSP is offered in all 50 states, District of Columbia, and the Pacific and Caribbean areas through continuous sign-ups with announced cut-off dates for ranking periods. CSP offers over 95 choices of enhancements and/or bundles of enhancements for producers to choose from that will benefit natural resources, including improvement of water and soil quality, wildlife habitat enhancement, and adoption of conservation activities that address the effects of climate change and alternative energy.


All agricultural producers and non-industrial forestland owners are encouraged to apply for CSP. Eligible lands include cropland (including hayland), pastureland, and non-industrial forestland. In 2010, the average payment for cropland/pastureland was $18-$55 per acre/year for 5 years and forestland averaged $7-14/acre/year for 5 years.


Conservation Stewardship payments are made for both maintaining current high levels of conservation on farmland or forestland, and further enhancing conservation efforts on soil, water, animals, plants, air and energy.


A CSP self-screening checklist is available to help producers determine if they are eligible for CSP and if CSP is suitable for their operation. The checklist highlights basic information about CSP eligibility requirements, contract obligations and potential payments. Applications are available from local NRCS offices or online at: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/new_csp/csp.html


SOURCE: USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service