The Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) is one of several programs available from USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) that assists farmers and ranchers expand their conservation activities. Area Forester for California NRCS, Andrew Lee explains that CSP is different from some of the other conservation programs available from NRCS, such as the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).
“The easiest way to think about it is EQIP is a shorter-term, more narrowly focused program. I usually explain to people that EQIP is kind of trying to solve a problem in a specific part of your property,” said Lee. “Whereas CSP is a five-year commitment, it entails your entire operation.”
Another difference between CSP and EQIP is how funding and reimbursement are structured. EQIP will provide funding for a specific conservation practice once it is completed. CSP will provide annual payments to support ongoing improvement to conservation and stewardship, with an additional payment provided once an enhancement activity is completed. “The payment size is typically related to both the size of the area you’re working with and the complexity of how much additional work you’re doing,” Lee explained.
CSP contracts will begin August 1 and cannot exceed $200,000 for the five-year term. Annual stewardship payments will begin after October 1. The program has received a historic $10 million in funding support for 2020. Those interested in participating have until June 12 to submit an application.
“In my experience, the best candidates for CSP are individuals that have done conservation work before and it also is really beneficial that they have an established relationship with our NRCS offices,” Lee noted. “Another thing that’s important to note is individuals who are really good at keeping records, both past and current management and what they’re up to year-to-year.”
Listen to the interview below.