The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service has extended the deadline for new enrollments in the Conservation Stewardship Program for fiscal year 2014. Delaware producers interested in participating in the program can submit applications to NRCS field offices through Friday, Feb. 7.
“Extending the deadline into February will make it possible for more farmers and forest landowners to apply for this beneficial conservation program,” said NRCS State Conservationist Kasey Taylor. “The level of conservation application that is performed by CSP participants ensures that their operations will be profitable, productive and sustainable over the long term.”
Conservation enhancements in Delaware include planting cover crop and cover crop mixes, using deep-rooted crops for soil compaction, and leaving standing crops for wildlife, among others that benefit soil and water quality and wildlife habit. Eligible lands include cropland, pastureland, and nonindustrial private forest land; participants must enroll their entire agricultural operation in CSP.
Limited-resource, beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers will be ranked in a separate funding pool to increase participation in CSP. All approved contracts in these groups are guaranteed a payment of $1,000 annually, and there is no minimum acreage requirement to apply. Landowners working to improve their operation can receive up to $40,000 a year in financial assistance for five years.
CSP is offered in all 50 states, and the Pacific and Caribbean areas. Sign-up is continuous; however, signing up before the extended deadline of Feb. 7 ensures applicants are considered for this year’s funding.
A CSP self-screening checklist is available to help potential applicants determine if CSP is suitable for their operation. It is available from local NRCS offices and on the Delaware NRCS website. As part of the CSP application process, applicants work with NRCS field personnel to determine their conservation performance, which will be used to determine eligibility, ranking and payments.
To apply for CSP, contact the local USDA Service Center. In Sussex County, call 302-856-3990, Ext. 3. More information on all NRCS programs and services is available at www.de.nrcs.usda.gov.