Monday, November 14, 2016

NRCS Now Accepting Applications For USDA Conservation Stewardship Program In PA

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service is now accepting applications for enrollment in the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), the nation’s largest conservation program, through February 3.
“This year, the Conservation Stewardship Program provides even more opportunities for conservation and greater flexibility at the local level to prioritize resource concerns and conservation approaches,” says Denise Coleman, NRCS State Conservationist. “Customized CSP tools for Pennsylvania will improve the customer experience during application evaluations.”
NRCS has made several updates to the program this year to help producers better evaluate their conservation options and the benefits to their operations and natural resources.
New methods and tools will allow producers to pick practices and enhancements that work best for their conservation objectives and to see potential payment scenarios for conservation early in the process.
Changes that producers can expect to see include nearly double the enhancements and conservation practices offered and better reporting tools to tell producers the results of their conservation efforts on their land.
CSP is for producers who are already established conservation stewards, helping them to deliver multiple conservation benefits on working lands, including improved water and soil quality and enhanced wildlife habitat.
Through CSP, agricultural producers and forest landowners earn payments for actively managing, maintaining, and expanding conservation activities like cover crops, ecologically-based pest management,  and forest stand improvement – all while maintaining active production on their land.
CSP also encourages the adoption of cutting-edge technologies and new management techniques such as precision agriculture applications, on-site carbon storage and planting for high carbon sequestration rate, and new soil amendments to improve water quality.
NRCS has addressed producer and stakeholder input requesting greater flexibility to address local resource concerns.
Now, NRCS will more effectively utilize input from farmers, ranchers and partners in State Technical Committees and local workgroups to inform and expand conservation strategies under the program.
Producers will be better prepared to apply because they will know these local ranking priorities and targeted resource concerns in advance.
People interested in the additional opportunities the updated CSP will offer can find information on the new CSP portal. This one-stop shop, which provides information to help producers determine whether CSP is right for them, will be continually updated as more information becomes available.
Producers interested in the program can also visit their local USDA Service Center to submit an application.
For more information on NRCS programs in Pennsylvania, visit the NRCS Pennsylvania webpage.

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