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CSP enrollment open; applications due by Jan. 17

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is opening the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) for new enrollments for federal fiscal year 2014. Producers interested in participating in the program may submit applications to NRCS from now through January 17.

The CSP is an important Farm Bill conservation program that helps established conservation stewards with taking their level of natural resource management to the next level to improve both their agricultural production and provide valuable conservation benefits such as cleaner and more abundant water, as well as healthier soils and better wildlife habitat.

The program emphasizes conservation performance — producers earn higher payments for higher performance. In CSP, producers install conservation enhancements to make positive changes in soil quality, soil erosion, water quality, water quantity, air quality, plant resources, animal resources and energy.

Some popular enhancements used by farmers and ranchers include:
• Using new nozzles that reduce the drift of pesticides, lowering input costs and making sure pesticides are used where they are most needed;
• Modifying water facilities to prevent bats and bird species from being trapped;
• Burning patches of land, mimicking prairie fires to enhance wildlife habitat; and
• Rotating feeding areas and monitoring key grazing areas to improve grazing management.

A CSP self-screening checklist is available to help producers determine if the program is suitable for their operation. The checklist highlights basic information about CSP eligibility requirements, stewardship threshold requirements and payment types.

Learn more about CSP by visiting the NRCS website or a local NRCS field office.