Conservation stewardship program offers payments for farm and forest lands

Photo by kconnors via morgueFile.com

Photo by kconnors via morgueFile.com

The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is accepting new applications for the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP). Farm and forest landowners and producers may apply by Jan. 17 for possible 2014 funding.

CSP encourages agricultural producers to maintain existing conservation activities and adopt additional ones on their Applications can be made at any time at all USDA Service Centers, but only applications received by Jan. 17 will be ranked for funding in 2014. The program is open to all farmers, regardless of size or type of operation. In 2013, 308 Wisconsin farmers and forestland owners enrolled in CSP, with an average payment of $5,408 per contract. Over $1.6 million in payments will be made to those farm families this year, and over $8.3 million over the course of the five-year contract.

“For many farmers, CSP offers reward and recognition for the conservation they are already doing, plus a little extra incentive to try a few more or new practices,” according to Brandi Richter, District Conservationist for Racine, Kenosha, Waukesha, and Milwaukee counties. Richter encourages interested farmers to apply now to be considered for funding. Eligible lands include cropland, pastureland, non-industrial private forestland, and tribal For the 2013 sign up, average payments in Wisconsin were $19 per acre for cropland, $13 per acre for pasture, and $4 per acre for woodland. Payments are made annually for each of the five years of the contract.

CSP is open to small and large operations, with farms already enrolled ranging from just a couple of acres to over 4,000 acres of cropland. Farmers will need to document their current and proposed conservation practices which will be used to rank applications and determine payments. NRCS field staff will also conduct on-site field verifications of applicants’ information.

For more information, visit www.wi.nrcs.usda.gov , or contact the NRCS office at the USDA Service Center serving your county.

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