Thursday, September 10, 2009

Apply Now for USDA's Conservation Stewardship Program

/PRNewswire/ -- Farmers and foresters who want to participate in USDA's new Conservation Stewardship Program, or CSP, should apply by September 30th to be considered in the first contract approval cycle.

CSP provides an annual payment to landowners who maintain a high level of conservation and agree to implement at least one new conservation activity on cropland, pasture, or forestland. CSP offers many different conservation activities from which to pick, covering a range of resource enhancing activities that help farmers improve their operations while protecting natural resources. A few examples are manure injection, filter strips, solar powered fence systems, and on-farm research and demonstrations.

Private forestland enhancements include forest stand improvement, establishment of pollinator habitat, and many more. Also, organic and specialty crop farms could transition to an organic cropping system, apply Integrated Pest Management, and more.

CSP can provide a supplemental payment for farmers who implement or upgrade a Resource Conserving Crop Rotation, such as cover crops, legumes in hay rotation, high residue producing crops, etc.

Estimated average payment ranges are $10-$22/acre for cropland, $7-$14/acre for pasture, and $6-$12/acre for forestland. Individual contracts may be more or less than these amounts. Contracts are for five years. The supplemental Resource Conserving Crop Rotation payment may range from $12 to $16/acre.

The CSP program relies heavily on the Farm Service Agency's (FSA) Farm Record System, and applicants must be listed as the operator of record in this system. When applying for this program, producers must bring their maps showing fields, crop rotations, and acreages of their farm or forestland operation. Applications should be submitted to their local USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service office. For more information, visit the NRCS web site at www.pa.nrcs.usda.gov and follow the link for CSP signup information, or call NRCS at (717)237-2100.

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