Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Renew Your NRCS-PA Landowner Conservation Stewardship Program Contract Now

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Wednesday announced a contract renewal sign-up is now underway for the Conservation Stewardship Program, USDA’s largest working lands conservation program with more than 80 million acres enrolled nationwide.
USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service made several updates to the popular program last fall. These changes help producers better evaluate conservation options that benefit their operations while improving the health and productivity of private and Tribal working lands.
“The changes made to CSP are providing even greater opportunities for stewardship-minded producers across the country to participate and bring their conservation efforts to a higher level,” said Denise Coleman, PA State Conservationist. “The new tools and methods for evaluating operations, expanded options to address the producer’s conservation and business objectives, and the focus on local resource priorities have resulted in a 30 percent increase in applications for this widely popular program.”
Participants with existing CSP contracts that will expire on December 31 can access the benefits of the recent program changes through an option to renew their contracts for an additional five years if they agree to adopt additional activities to achieve higher levels of conservation on their lands.
Applications to renew expiring contracts are due by May 3, 2017.
Through CSP, agricultural producers and non-industrial private forest landowners earn payments for actively managing, maintaining, and expanding conservation activities like cover crops, buffers, forage improvement, and tree/shrub plantings activities – all while maintaining active agricultural production on their land. Benefits to producers can include:
-- Improved cattle gains per acre;
-- Increased crop yields;
-- Decreased inputs;
-- Wildlife population improvements; and
-- Better resilience to weather extremes.
“CSP is for working lands,” said Coleman. “Thousands of people have made the choice to voluntarily enroll in the program because it helps them enhance natural resources and improve their business operation.”
Producers interested in contract renewals or applying for CSP for the first time should contact their local NRCS office.
For more information, visit the NRCS-PA Conservation Stewardship Program webpage.
For more information on programs, technical and financial assistance, visit the NRCS Pennsylvania webpage.

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