Those looking to apply for the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) have until May 10 to submit their CSP applications, in order to be eligible for 2019 funding. The 2018 Farm Bill changed some aspects of CSP, including the shift from being based on acreage to being based on a funding allotment. For the first year of the change, Congress can authorize up to $700 million to be used on the program. CSP provides support funding for landowners participating in multiple conservation practices including cover cropping, irrigation water management, and prescribed grazing.
“It’s a way of recognizing the good stewardship that landowners are already doing…and gives them an opportunity to build on that,” said Alan Forkey, Resource Conservationist with Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). “There are literally hundreds of enhancements that are available to landowners that want to address resource concerns.”
CSP is designed to provide support for landowners and producers who are already engaging in conservation efforts. “In that respect, CSP is not for everybody,” said Forkey. “Typically, what we try to recommend to landowners is if you’re not ready; maybe EQIP. The Environmental Quality Incentives program is something that can help you get ready.”
CSP applications will need to be submitted by the deadline, then the process of determining eligibility will begin. “Between the 10th of May and the 12th of July, the NRCS field staff will be making appointments to get together with landowners in the office, with the applicants, to go over what’s called the Conservation Activity Evaluation Tool,” said Forkey. “So, there’s going to be a few months between the actual application deadline and when they’ll be making funding decisions.”
In California, there has been up to hundreds of thousands of acres enrolled in the program in a single year. All applicants will need to be able to provide documentation of previous manage efforts, including any past participation in NRCS management practices.
Listen to Forkey’s interview below.