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Conservation Stewardship Program

CSP offers farmers the opportunity to earn payments for actively managing, maintaining, and expanding conservation activities like cover crops, rotational grazing, ecologically-based pest management and silvopasture – even while they work their lands for production. The current sign-up deadline is June 5,2020.

Not sure what CSP might mean for your operation? Check out this video about a rancher in Lake County who started with EQIP funding to improve infrastructure and then CSP funding to, monitor rangeland soil health, and improve the ecosystem. And landowner profile about a farmer in Winters, CA.

The Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) can help you manage your existing on-farm conservation, and add new conservation practices to your farming toolkit, like cover crops, resource-conserving crop rotations, buffer strips, rotational grazing, silvopasture, organic transition, and more. And you get paid for it! Deadlines vary by state, with most in May and June.

To be considered for CSP, the applicant needs to demonstrate that they have been implementing conservation practices on all the lands in their operation. The easiest way to demonstrate this is through a past EQIP contracts, but there are other ways such as through other grants or Landsmart plans.

Talk to your local NRCS (Natural Resources Conservation Service) agent soon to start the sign-up process. Remote sign-up is available. 

Contact:   Andrew Loganbill, District Conservationist
Phone:   (707) 794-1242 ex 3
Fax:   (844) 206-7016
Email:   andrew.loganbill@usda.gov
Office:   5401 Old Redwood Hwy
Petaluma, CA 94954

What is CSP? The Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) is USDA’s largest conservation program, offering whole farm, comprehensive conservation assistance to farmers and ranchers across the country. Each year the annual sign-up offers an opportunity for farmers to receive financial and technical assistance for advanced conservation through five-year contracts on all types of land in agricultural production.

Here’s how it works:

  • Call the Petaluma NRCS office to ask about CSP and fill out the simple, 3-page application form. (You can also find the form online here.) You will need a farm record number established with the Farm Service Agency (FSA) in order to fill out the form. This is the only step that must be completed by the initial program deadline. The form can be submitted via email or mail.
  • You will work with your NRCS agent using a computerized tool to analyze your farm’s eligibility for CSP, based on your current management system and the natural resources on your land. There are stewardship threshold requirements to participate in CSP.
  • If you are eligible for the program, you will work with an NRCS conservation planner to create a conservation plan for your farm.
  • Your plan will be ranked against other requests for funding. If you score highly, you will be offered a contract (and funding).
  • You will work with NRCS to carry out your contract.

How much can a farm receive? CSP works for producers of all scales. Payment is calculated on a whole farm, per-acre basis - and there is a minimum annual payment of $1,500 per farm.

What conservation practices does CSP support? CSP enhancements include cover crops, “resource conserving crop rotations” (for example, a crop rotation plan which includes a perennial grass or legume), rotational grazing, silvopasture, pollinator habitat, filter and buffer strips, improvements to streams and ponds, biochar production, no-till and reduced-tillage systems, and more.

For even more information, visit the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition's website or read through this helpful Guide to applying for CSP during the time of coronavirus from the Center for Rural Affairs. 

This information was reprinted from Food Animal Concerns Trust and updated with local information.