An important deadline is coming up quickly for certain contract holders with the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP). Farmers and ranchers who started their first CSP contract in 2014 are eligible this year to apply to renew for a second CSP contract. Interested farmers and ranchers have until Dec. 31 to sign contract modifications with their local Natural Resource Conservation Services (NRCS) office.
CSP is the major federal working lands conservation program. Each year, it provides a pathway for farmers and ranchers to ramp up conservation efforts for their whole operation and tackle their most pressing conservation issues.
Farmers and ranchers must apply with NRCS to enroll in CSP. Once accepted, they work with their local NRCS office to determine which natural resource issues on their operation to focus on. Then, they write a plan for implementing conservation practices to address those concerns. These practices can range from planting cover crop mixes to intensive rotational grazing to managing grazing to improving wildlife habitat. NRCS provides payments to farmers and ranchers for implementing the conservation plan over the five-year contract period. CSP allows farmers and ranchers to sign up for a maximum of two five-year contracts.
When the 2014 farm bill expired on Sept. 30, there was uncertainty about how expiration would impact renewing CSP contracts. Now, farmers and ranchers have more certainty about renewal options.
Contact your local NRCS office to learn more. You can find your local NRCS office by visiting this website: https://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov/locator/app.
Established in 1973, the Center for Rural Affairs is a private, non-profit organization working to strengthen small businesses, family farms and ranches, and rural communities through action oriented programs addressing social, economic, and environmental issues.