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florida scrub jay perches in the wild

USDA conservation stewardship enrollment

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced a May 10 deadline to apply for the Conservation Stewardship Program, a federal effort to encourage environmentally friendly agricultural practices. Information was disseminated in a news release, as follows:

USDA Announces Conservation Stewardship Program Sign-up

GAINESVILLE, Fla., April 5, 2019 – The next application deadline for Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) is May 10 for fiscal year 2019. USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) plans to invest up to $700 million nationally for new enrollments and contract extensions.

Through CSP, agricultural producers and forest landowners earn payments for managing, maintaining and expanding conservation activities like cover crops, ecologically-based pest management, and buffer strips while maintaining agricultural production on their land. CSP also encourages adoption of new technologies and management techniques.

The 2018 Farm Bill made several changes to the program, which helps agricultural producers take the conservation activities on their farm or ranch to the next level.

Changes

The 2018 Farm Bill authorizes NRCS to accept new CSP enrollments from now until 2023, and it makes some improvements to the program. These updates include:

  • NRCS now enrolls eligible, high-ranking applications based on dollars rather than acres. For fiscal 2019, NRCS can spend up to $700 million in the program, which covers part of the cost for producers implementing new conservation activities and maintaining their existing activities.
  • Higher payment rates are now available for certain conservation activities, including cover crops and resource conserving crop rotations.
  • CSP now provides support for organic and transitioning to organic production, and a special grassland conservation initiative for producers who have maintained cropland-base acres.

“CSP continues to be a very effective tool for private landowners working to achieve their conservation and management goals,” said Russell Morgan, Florida NRCS state conservationist. “It is the largest conservation program in the United States with more than 70 million acres of productive agricultural and forest land enrolled.”

While applications are accepted throughout the year, interested producers should submit applications to their local NRCS office by the deadline to ensure their applications are considered for 2019 funding.

The Manasota Service Center services Manatee, Charlotte, and Sarasota counties. Contact NRCS District Conservationist Israel Vega-Marrero at Israel.vega-marrero@fl.usda.gov 941-444-3143 for more information or an application.

For additional information about CSP, contact your local USDA service center.

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