LSP Urges MN Farmers to Check Out Working Lands Conservation Program Improvements this Spring
SAINT PAUL, Minn. — Minnesota farmers can now submit initial 2019 applications for the nation's two premier working lands conservation initiatives: the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) and its cost share partner, the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). While applicants can apply for these two programs anytime throughout the year, the Minnesota-based Land Stewardship Project urges interested producers to submit applications before the April 19 (EQIP) and May 10 (CSP) deadlines to ensure that they are considered for enrollment in 2019. Farmers should note that deadlines can vary from state-to-state—the Wisconsin deadline for EQIP is May 17, for example. To apply, farmers and ranchers can go to their local Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) office and submit the initial application, which consists of a simple form that asks for basic information regarding land ownership, type of production, and contact information.
CSP is unique in that it is the only working lands program for farmers that provides financial payments for conservation management they are already doing that meets local resource concerns while also providing financial incentives to assist them in doing more. Farm Bill improvements to CSP include increased payments to farmers looking to add resource conserving crops to their rotations. Farmers with a history of strong land conservation management across their entire farms are encouraged to check out this program.
"When I think about Farm Bill policy that helps farmers maintain and improve conservation across their farms, there is nothing better than CSP,” said Madison, Minn., farmer Carmen Fernholz. “I use it, and find it to be a user-friendly program that supports the conservation practices I'm already doing, while providing incentives to further improve my farm's environmental health and resilience."
EQIP provides cost share incentives for farmers wanting to implement new conservation practices on portions of their farm. When it comes to EQIP, the 2018 Farm Bill prioritizes cover crop practices, conservation crop rotations, and practices that promote soil health as well as wildlife habitat. These practices are now eligible for longer contract periods as well. EQIP can be used to help farmers meet the threshold for later participation in CSP if their farm operation does not currently meet the level required to enroll.
“I've used both EQIP and CSP to help me support and enhance conservation on my farm,” said Wabasso Minn., farmer Paul Sobocinski. “I encourage farmers at any stage in their career to go to their NRCS office before the spring deadlines to check out the opportunities these programs provide to increase farm profitability and stewardship."
Farmers interested in changes made to CSP and EQIP by the 2018 Farm Bill are encouraged to contact the Land Stewardship Project’s Nuessmeier at 507-995-3541 or firstname.lastname@example.org.