Iowa farmers interested in signing up for the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) should submit applications to their local USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) office by Jan. 13, 2012, to be considered for eligibility during the first ranking period of 2012.
Through CSP, NRCS provides financial and technical assistance to eligible producers who conserve and enhance soil, water, air, and related natural resources on their land. The program provides many conservation benefits including improvement of water and soil quality, wildlife habit enhancements and adoption of conservation activities that address the effects of climate change.
"CSP continues to be a good opportunity for conservation farmers to try new practices while receiving payments for their past achievements," said Richard Sims, state conservationist for Iowa NRCS.
Eligible lands include cropland, pastureland, rangeland, nonindustrial private forest land and agricultural land under the jurisdiction of an Indian tribe. Participation in the program is voluntary.
An updated CSP self-screening checklist is available to help potential applicants determine if CSP is suitable for their operation. The checklist highlights basic information about CSP eligibility requirements, contract obligations and potential payments. It is available from local NRCS offices and on the Iowa NRCS website at www.ia.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/ConservationStewardshipProgram.html.
As part of the CSP application process, applicants work with NRCS field personnel to complete a resource inventory using the Conservation Measurement Tool (CMT). The CMT determines the conservation performance for existing and new conservation activities. The applicant's conservation performance will be used to determine eligibility, ranking and payments.
Through the 2011 CSP signup, Iowa farmers in 93 counties enrolled more than 368,000 acres in CSP, helping to improve water and soil quality, enhance wildlife habitat and address the effects of climate change. Iowans received an average of $29 per acre during the 2011 CSP signup. Average payments depend on land use, existing stewardship and new stewardship practices.
To apply or to find out more about CSP, visit your local USDA Service Center or go online to www.ia.nrcs.usda.gov.