USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will very shortly begin the 2013 enrollment process for farmers and ranchers who want to participate in the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP). 

Over 12 million acres of farm and ranch land will be enrolled this year. 

Producers compete to get into the program, with those offering the highest conservation and environmental benefits being enrolled.

The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, which helped develop the program and has followed its progress closely, has issued a 
five-page Information Alert on the 2013 sign-up. The document is available free online at www.sustainableagriculture.net.

In addition to providing the timeline for the sign-up and enrollment process, the Alert includes basic sign-up information and describes changes made to the program for this sign-up, including new conservation enhancements being offered.

This year’s enrollment was delayed for six months while Congress negotiated and finally passed a final “continuing resolution” for the funding of government programs. 

The delay means this year’s cut-off date for applications is much later in the year than usual. It also means the agency will have to move very quickly through the enrollment process in order to finish on time.

“Many farmers have already submitted applications at their NRCS State Conservationist office,” said NSAC Policy Associate Greg Fogel.

 “But others understandably may have been reluctant to apply without more detailed information on the sign-up and date on which NRCS will start accepting applications. With NRCS very close to making the announcement of the cut-off date for applications for this year, which will likely be 30 days from the date of the announcement, now is the time for farmers to get their applications submitted.”

CSP is an innovative working lands conservation program that rewards farmer and ranchers for the conservation and environmental benefits they produce. 

CSP is administered by NRCS and available on a nationwide basis. CSP offers technical and financial assistance to farmers for adopting and maintaining high standards of resource conservation and environmental stewardship.

Assistance is geared to both the active management of existing conservation systems and for implementing new conservation activities on land in agricultural production.

In the first four enrollment years for CSP (2009-2012), more than 39,000 farmers and ranchers have enrolled over 50 million acres of farm and ranch land, land that is now under five-year, renewable CSP conservation contracts valued at $680 million a year.

In addition to the newly released Information Alert, producers will find more detailed information about CSP in NSAC’s Farmers’ Guide to the Conservation Stewardship Program available for free download at http://sustainableagriculture.net/publications/

The Guide provides clear information on conservation activities eligible 
for CSP payments to improve conservation performance and environmental benefits. It also includes step-by-step enrollment guidance, key definitions, and helpful hints.