The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) released its Farmers’ Guide to the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP). The guide provides farmers and ranchers looking to enroll in the CSP program, or renew CSP contracts, with helpful, comprehensive, and accurate information about the program.

Since 2003, CSP has provided farmers and ranchers with five-year, renewable financial assistance contracts for implementing and maintaining conservation measures across their entire operation as they work to help solve regional resource concerns.

NSAC periodically updates the Farmers’ Guide to ensure up-to date information is available. If you or a farmer you know are considering enrolling in CSP, you can review this NRCS form in the preparation for application to the program.

What Is in This Year’s Guide? 

The Guide can help you understand the steps involved in applying for and using CSP, learn more about the conservation activities CSP can help you implement, understand how your farm will be ranked, understand the way CSP payments work, and prepare for the reporting requirements you will need to meet once enrolled. Among the key topic headings are eligibility, enrollment, ranking, and payments.

Eligibility

All private agricultural land is eligible for CSP, including cropland, pastureland, rangeland, land used for agro-forestry, and non-industrial forest land. Even those who rent their farms are eligible for CSP, as long as there is a reasonable expectation of control of the land for the duration of the contract. . In some cases, public lands that are part of the farming and ranching operation may also be eligible for CSP.

Enrollment

Because CSP is a competitive program, there are some steps you must take and metrics you must meet so NRCS can score your farm and determine if it is eligible for CSP. This means filling out an application, determining which conservation enhancements are best for your farm, and filling out the new Conservation Assessment and Ranking Tool (CART) questionnaire. Based on what your current farm conservation activities and what you plan to do, CART will give your farm a numeric score so it can be compared to other farms in your state and area.

If NRCS determines that your farm is eligible for CSP, you will then work with your NRCS representative to develop a CSP contract for your farm that includes the list of conservation enhancements you have chosen to implement during the five-year contract term.. You will also be responsible for some reporting on the enhancements you put in place before you can receive  financial assistance.

Farmers, sign up for the Conservation Stewardship Program! The deadline to sign up for the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) in New Jersey is yet to be announced. Reach out to your local @usdagov NRCS office to start your application now. Find your local service center: bit.ly/findNRCS