On March 19, Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer announced a sign-up period for the Conservation Security Program (CSP) would start on April 18 for about 64,000 potentially eligible farms and ranches in 51 watersheds covering more than 23.7 million acres.

“As President Bush has said, those who depend on the land to make a living are the best stewards of the land,” says Schafer. “Since the first sign-up in 2004, CSP has offered payments for enhancing natural resources, rewarding those farmers and ranchers who are model conservationists, and providing incentives for other producers to achieve those same high standards of conservation in agriculture.”

The CSP sign-up period runs from April 18 to May 16. The sign-up announcement and specific program requirements are being published in the Federal Register.

CSP is a voluntary conservation program that supports ongoing stewardship of private farmland.

CSP payments can include three components:

  1. An annual stewardship component for the base level of conservation treatment;
  2. An annual component for maintenance of existing conservation practices; and
  3. An enhancement component for exceptional conservation effort.

To apply for CSP payments, the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) asks potential participants to complete a CSP self-assessment workbook available on the Web or at local NRCS offices. The goal is to find out if their operation meets program requirements and qualifies for participation.

CSP is offered on a rotational basis in as many watersheds as funding allows. Additional information on CSP, eligible watersheds and a CSP self-assessment workbook is available at http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/csp.