Indianapolis, IN, – Indiana State Conservationist Jane Hardisty announced today that the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is taking applications for the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP). Through CSP, farmers voluntarily improve the health and productivity of their land. Nationally NRCS plans to add an estimated 10 million acres to CSP, including 54,000 acres in Indiana.
“The Conservation Stewardship Program is one of our most popular programs with farmers because it results in real changes on the ground by increasing soil and air quality, conserving clean water and enhancing wildlife habitat,” Hardisty said. “With this investment, we’ll be able to build on the already record number of acres enrolled in USDA’s conservation programs, enabling farmers to achieve higher levels of conservation on farms and forests.”
NRCS accepts applications for CSP throughout the year, but farmers should submit applications by March 31 to their NRCS service centers to ensure they are considered for enrollment in 2016.
Participants with existing CSP contracts that will expire on December 31, 2016 have the option to renew their contracts for an additional five years if they agree to adopt additional activities to achieve higher levels of conservation on their lands. Applications to renew are also due by March 31.
Funding is available for more than one hundred kinds of enhancements nationwide to help participants:
Improve soil quality through use of cover crops, conservation crop rotations and other activities that increase soil productivity.
Use water wisely and improve water quality through enhancements such as more efficient irrigation systems and weather monitoring.
Restore habitat for wildlife and pollinators such as the greater sage-grouse, lesser prairie-chicken and monarch butterfly through the use of better grazing systems and improved plant management.
A CSP self-screening checklist is available to help producers determine if the program is compatible with their operation. As part of the application process, applicants will work with NRCS field personnel to complete a resource inventory of their land to determine the conservation performance for existing and new conservation activities. The applicant’s conservation prior performance will be used to determine eligibility, ranking and payments.
Through CSP, NRCS has enhanced conservation on more than 575,000 acres in Indiana since 2009. For more information about CSP in Indiana, visit http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/in/programs/financial/csp/
For more on technical and financial assistance available through conservation programs, visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/GetStarted or contact your local St. Joseph NRCS District Conservationist Debbie Knepp or Soil Conservationsist James Rodriguez at 574-936-2024 Ext. 4.