CSP Boosts Minimum Contract Payment: Signups Open Now

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Farmers and ranchers interested in enrolling in the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) this year have until March 31st to submit their initial applications to the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). USDA will enroll 10 million acres of farm and ranch land in the program in 2016, with payments to farmers and ranchers of over three-quarters of a billion dollars over the next five years.

The exciting news this year is that NRCS has boosted the minimum contract payment to $1,500, which makes the program more attractive for smaller operations. OFRF encourages all organic farmers, no matter what their acreage, to take advantage of this opportunity. More participation by organic famers in this program will ultimately increase the focus on organic farming and help increase the number of organic farmers and acreage in the US.

“The Conservation Stewardship Program is one of our most popular programs with producers because it results in real change on the ground by boosting soil and air quality, conserving clean water and enhancing wildlife habitat,” said USDA Secretary, Tom Vilsack. “With this investment, we’ll be able to build on the already record number of acres enrolled in USDA’s conservation programs, enabling producers to achieve higher levels of conservation and adopt new and emerging conservation technologies on farms, ranches and forests.”

Compared to 2015, NRCS is able to enroll an additional 2.3 million acres in the program this year, which covers nearly all 10 million acres dictated by the 2014 Farm Bill. Nearly full funding is possible because CSP was not limited through the annual appropriations process. In the past few years these cuts have reduced CSP acreage levels, but thankfully there are no cuts this year.

To sign up, visit your local NRCS office and submit the initial application to enroll. While applicants can sign up anytime throughout the year for CSP, submitting your applications by March 31 will ensure you are considered for enrollment in 2016.

Milkweed buffer strip. Photo credit: USDA