USDA’s Final CSP Rule Published
The United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) published its final rule on the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) today in the Federal Register. The changes incorporated in the final rule take into consideration public input and make permanent changes made in the interim final rule. These revisions will make the program more flexible and responsive to the varied needs of farmers and ranchers across the nation.
The National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) has played an active role during the process to finalize the CSP rule and submitted comments on the interim final rule in January of 2015. NACD is pleased with the progress toward making the rule more adaptable to the needs of producers and landowners on many diverse landscapes across the nation, but we remain concerned that landowners will not be granted equal payment for existing and new conservation activities and to equally rank existing and new conservation activities.
“NACD greatly values the work to get conservation on the ground and implement critical Farm Bill conservation programs like CSP,” said NACD President Lee McDaniel. “We applaud the progress the agency continues to make with the CSP program, and we look forward to future opportunities to strengthen its conservation delivery.”
NACD is pleased NRCS incorporated: rolling open enrollment; the option to enroll Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) land in the last year of its contract into CSP and the transfer of land from CSP to CRP, the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) or other Federal or State programs; and NRCS’s acknowledgment of producers that participate in environmental credit-trading programs and the declaration of no involvement unless the practice standards of the CSP contract are not met.
NACD will continue to work closely with NRCS on CSP and its implementation.
CSP is the nation’s largest conservation program by acreage that helps agricultural producers maintain and improve existing conservation systems and establish new conservation initiatives to address natural resource concerns. The program is voluntary and works on an incentive-based structure that provides increased funding for higher performing operations.