Deadline extended for Conservation Stewardship Program enrollment

Reposted with permission from The National Sustainable Agriculture Network http://sustainableagriculture.net

On Thursday, October 7, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) announced the extension of the FY 2011 sign-up period for the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) until January 7, 2011. NRCS will use the additional time to expand and improve program marketing and outreach to producers.  We had previously announced the decision to extend the sign-up until December 31, 2010, but since then an extra week was tacked on to move past the holidays.According to NRCS Chief Dave White, “We’re extending the deadline for applications to CSP to provide agricultural producers more time to complete their applications.  This will help farmers, ranchers and forestry producers by giving them more time and hopefully allow even more producers to participate in this program.”

Producers who wish to apply for the next ranking and funding period can download the CSP self-screening checklist and application here.

The FY 2010 sign-up for CSP resulted in the successful enrollment of over 12.4 million CSP acres, roughly 98 percent of the program’s annual cap of 12.8 million acres nationwide.  While the program was inundated with applicants, as it was in 2009, there evidently was some difficulty at the margin in getting final contracts prepared and signed before the end of the fiscal year on

September 30, leaving a few unused acres.

We expect to see within the next week or two the full report on the CSP 2010 sign-up results, including breakdowns by land type, resource concern, and state, and will report to our readers on that data as soon as we receive it.

Visit NSAC’s Grassroots Guide to the Farm Bill to learn more about the Conservation Stewardship Program.

In other conservation program news, NRCS enrolled roughly 271,000 acres of wetlands in the Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) in FY 2010.  This is the largest annual sign up in the program’s history.  The average WRP contract rental rate was close to $2,200 per acre, though this number varies substantially between and within states.  Final WRP numbers are expected to come out at the state-by-state level in the near future.

There has been concern since passage of the 2008 Farm Bill that a new seven year land ownership requirement might unnecessarily preclude otherwise eligible wetland enrollments.  However, the farm bill also provides a waiver provision if it is clear land purchase or transfer did not occur for the purpose of WRP enrollment.  The agency reports that the vast majority of waivers that have been sought have been granted.  Many of these waivers involved intra-family farm transfers from one generation to the next.

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