Minnesota Tops in the Nation in Use of Innovative Working Lands Program
The application deadline for the 2013 sign-up in the voluntary Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) has been extended to June 14, the USDA announced this week. While CSP enrollment is continuous, interested farmers, ranchers, and forestland owners must complete the initial application form by June 14 to compete for a spot in the 2013 enrollment class for the program.
The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will accept slightly more than 12 million acres into the program nationally this year.
“The application producers need to submit by June 14 is essentially a basic form that outlines farmers’ intent to go through the CSP sign-up process with NRCS,” said Adam Warthesen, policy organizer for the Land Stewardship Project. "NRCS will discuss program specifics and contract options with each producer in the months following that June 14 deadline.”
CSP offers financial incentives to farmers for adopting and maintaining high standards of conservation and environmental stewardship. Assistance is geared to both the active management of existing conservation systems and to the implementation of new conservation activities on land in agricultural production.
In the first four enrollment years for CSP (2009-2012), more than 39,000 farmers and ranchers have enrolled over 50 million acres of farm and ranch land. Land that is now under five-year, renewable CSP conservation contracts is valued at $680 million a year. Since 2009, Minnesota has consistently topped the nation in use of this program.
"We need more conservation on the farm landscape, not less, and Minnesota farmers generally rate quite high when applying for CSP contracts," said Warthesen. "This is a great opportunity to not only get rewarded for practicing good conservation, but for implementing new practices on the farm. Producers have nothing to lose and should check it out."
For more information, contact your local NRCS office at www.mn.nrcs.usda.gov.