Many aspects of organic stewardship represent the core focus of the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Organic growers may find that because of some of the practices that are in place on their operation they could be eligible for support from the CSP.
“We feel like the bar is pretty low for at least eligibility for the organic growers because to be eligible for CSP you have to already be meeting thresholds for two resource concerns and by that, I mean already working with established conservation practices,” said Hudson Minshew, State Conservation Agronomist for NRCS California. “Some easy examples are crop rotation and cover cropping.”
The CSP is designed to provide assistance to expand and enhance conservation practices that are already in place on farming operations. Because of the methods of production, organic stewardship overlaps in many areas of focus of the CSP. “They’re already using cover crops, they have already got an integrated pest management plan, or they are already doing a nutrient management plan or irrigation water management. So, what it’s designed for is to reward those farmers in the form of stewardship payments,” Minshew noted.
An example of an area where organic producers can benefit from the CSP is through shifting the focus of their cover cropping system to address another resource concern. Minshew described the practice of alternating cover crop mixes from those aimed at addressing something like soil erosion to a mix that will be more beneficial to pollinators.
“What we like about this is it gives the farmers an opportunity to enroll their whole farm for a period of five years, that’s the contract length,” Minshew explained. “Our hope is that we’ll expand our customer base with this program. A lot of people never felt that EQIP really addressed what they needed, so this is an opportunity I think for a wider swath of growers.”
Listen to the interview below.