September 24, 2010
NSAC learned today (September 24) that the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) plans to hold the farmer and rancher sign-up for the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) between October 1 and December 31, 2010.
CSP is a continuous sign-up program, meaning that farmers and ranchers can apply to participate in the program at any time. However, each year there is a closing date at which point NRCS will rank proposals in hand by that time to determine who will be enrolled in that given year. Farmers applying after that cut-off date will still be considered, but not until the next ranking period. For the time being, NRCS plans to do just one ranking process per year, meaning that effectively farmers and ranchers must have applied and complete the CSP Conservation Measurement Tool prior to the start of the next calendar year.
NSAC applauds NRCS for extending the effective sign-up period until the end of December. Earlier plans called for a shorter time period.
In October, NSAC will be releasing a new, revised version of its Farmers Guide to the CSP. We encourage members and readers to use that publication in getting the word out about the program. The guide will be web-published but will also be available in limited quantities as a printed document. If you might be interested in a bulk order of a printed version, please contact the NSAC office as soon as possible.
We expect NRCS to make an announcement with the final state-by-state figures for the 2010 sign-up in the near future and we will certainly let readers know as soon as that information becomes available. The first CSP payments to farmers and ranchers who enrolled in 2009 or are in the process of being enrolled in 2010 will be made this fall.
In total, over 25 million acres of farm and ranch land will be in the program from those first two years, with an additional 12.8 million acres to be enrolled after early next year following the December 31 cut off date. By this time next year there will be more working lands enrolled in CSP than acres retired from agriculture through the Conservation Reserve Program.