Farmers interested in enrolling in the Conservation Stewardship Program this year have until May 10 to submit initial paperwork to their local Natural Resource Conservation Service office.
The process to indicate interest in enrolling in CSP is easy. Farmers and ranchers only need to submit a three-page form and their farm record number to NRCS. Those who do not have a farm record number should first contact their local Farm Service Agency office to obtain one.
CSP offers farmers and ranchers an important pathway to enhancing stewardship of land, soil and water resources. Under CSP, farmers and ranchers work with local NRCS staff to write a conservation plan for their operations.
Together, they plan conservation practices to bring their operation to a higher level of stewardship while keeping acres in production. To be eligible to enroll in CSP, applicants must prove they already meet a conservation threshold on their operations. After NRCS evaluates CSP applications and awards contracts, farmers and ranchers receive payments to put the planned conservation practices into action.
The farm bill made several changes to CSP, but farmers and ranchers won’t see most changes until 2020. NRCS will first release a proposed rule and accept public comments, a process which U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue has indicated will begin this fall.
The current CSP signup window offers a valuable opportunity to enhance stewardship for a whole operation. Interested farmers and ranchers should contact their local NRCS office today to learn more.
The local USDA service center is located at 246 Bullsboro Drive, Newnan. Coweta County is also served by the Carrollton Service Center, 408 N. White St., Carrollton, 770-834-2097.
Anna Johnson is policy associate for the Center for Rural Affairs in Lyons, Neb.