2009 CSP Sign-up

For Immediate Release
August 6, 2009

Contact: Ferd Hoefner
PH: 202-547-5754

Two-Step CSP Farmer Sign-Up

Washington, D.C. August 6, 2009 – USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan today announced the first farmer sign-up period for the new Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) for August 10-September 30 (see www.usda.gov).  The sign-up for Fiscal Year 2009 is unique in one very important respect that farmers interested in the program should understand.  For this year only, interested farmers need only to submit a basic application to the program expressing their interest in participating by the end of the fiscal year (September 30).  The more detailed enrollment process can then occur after October 1 yet still count as a Fiscal Year 2009 enrollment.

“Our farmers are excited to know the new CSP has finally arrived,” said Ferd Hoefner with the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.  “We are getting the word out that applications need to be completed at the local Natural Resource Conservation Service office by September 30.  The more detailed process of completing the Conservation Measurement Tool, which will be used to rank applications, and then, if accepted into the program, having a field visit from NRCS and completing the conservation plan and program contract can then occur later this fall.  But the only way to get to that second more detailed step is by getting the short application completed by September 30.  For interested farmers, the bottom line is to be in the initial 2009 class of participants in the new CSP, get into the office and get the application filled out now in order to have the chance to complete the other enrollment steps later in the year.”

The Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) is a comprehensive working lands conservation program designed to protect and improve natural resources and the environment for generations to come.  CSP provides technical and financial assistance to farmers and ranchers to actively manage and maintain existing conservation systems and to implement additional conservation activities on land in agricultural production.  CSP targets funding to:

•    Address particular resources of concern in a given watershed or region
•    Assist farmers and ranchers to improve soil, water, and air quality
•    Provide increased biodiversity and wildlife and pollinator habitat
•    Sequester carbon and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to mitigate climate change
•    Conserve water and energy.

The 2008 Farm Bill authorizes a new nationwide, continuous sign-up for CSP which means farmers and ranchers anywhere in the country will be able to apply for the CSP any year and at any time of the year.  Periodically during the year, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) – the agency that administers CSP – will rank applications and then develop contracts with those farmers and ranchers with the highest rankings until funding for that ranking period is completely allocated.

The new farm bill provides sufficient funding for the program to enroll nearly 13 million acres each year.  CSP acreage eligible for enrollment will be allocated to each state based primarily on the amount of agricultural land in that state relative to the national total.