January 18, 2011
As we reported in a blog post earlier this month, USDA had finalized but not yet released the full list of conservation enhancements and conservation practices available for the FY 2011 Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) sign-up. This new information, which includes revisions to environmental benefit scores and the descriptions of the new enhancements, is now available on the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s (NRCS) website for CSP.
Nearly two weeks ago, we posted a document that lists all the 2011 enhancements and practices, ranked from highest to lowest environmental benefit scores. These are the options available to CSP applicants to adopt to help solve particular resource concerns as part of their CSP plan and financial assistance package. The environmental benefit scores are used in the process of ranking proposals for acceptance into the program and also in the process of determining payment levels; the higher the score, the higher the ranking and payment levels.
The same information, though in a somewhat less digestible format, is now available on the NRCS website as the list of FY 2011 enhancements and scores and the list of FY 2011 conservation practices and scores. You can also download the list of questions and associated scores that is being used in the FY 2011 Conservation Measurement Tool (CMT).
The list of enhancements and practices available for the FY 2011 sign-up includes 20 enhancements available for the first time in 2011. Six enhancements offered in 2010 have been discontinued. Of particular note among the 20 new enhancements for 2011 are several that had strong support from the sustainable agriculture community and that receive fairly high environmental benefit point values. These include on-farm sources (from legumes, manure, composting) for nitrogen needs, ultra high density grazing (sometimes called mob grazing), on-farm composting of farm waste, alley cropping, and intercropping to improve soil quality and biodiversity.
The application deadline to apply to enroll in the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) for 2011 is January 21, 2011. The application form, available at the local NRCS office, is a fairly short and simple one.
All producers who have submitted the form by January 21 will then have until March 9, 2011 to sit down with their NRCS staff person and fill out the CSP Conservation Measurement Tool (CMT) which will be used to determine program eligibility, environmental benefits ranking, and CSP payment amounts.
NRCS currently expects to complete the ranking process by mid-March, complete on-farm verification visits by late April, and complete conservation plan and contract development by mid- May. The first CSP payments for contracts awarded in this round will be made in October 2011.