USDA Invests $150 Million in CSP

Any farmer struggling after the horrific 2015 growing season should take a look at the Conservation Stewardship Program with the NRCS.  This program is designed to give farmers financial assistance to carry out conservation practices in their farming operations.  In many cases, farmers may already be using some of these practices, in which case this is definitely worth a look.  Take a look at the press release below and contact your local NRCS office for more info.  Here is the list of contact info for offices in Area 2 (most of the Pee Dee and lower SC) and Area 1 (the rest of SC).

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Assistance in South Carolina Available through Conservation Stewardship Program as part of $150 Million USDA Investment

USDA Offers Renewal Options for Producers with Expiring Contracts

COLUMBIA, S.C., Feb. 5, 2016 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced Thursday $150 million in funding is available for agricultural producers through the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), the largest USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) conservation program that helps producers voluntarily improve the health and productivity of private and Tribal working lands.

The NRCS plans to add an estimated 10 million acres to the rolls of CSP during fiscal 2016.

“The Conservation Stewardship Program is one of our most popular programs with producers because it results in real change on the ground by boosting soil and air quality, conserving clean water and enhancing wildlife habitat,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “With this investment, we’ll be able to build on the already record number of acres enrolled in USDA’s conservation programs, enabling producers to achieve higher levels of conservation and adopt new and emerging conservation technologies on farms, ranches and forests.”

South Carolina is eligible to provide assistance for approximately 136,416 acres of agricultural and non-industrial private forestland, and will be accepting applications for CSP throughout the year. Producers should submit applications by March 31 to ensure they are considered for enrollment in 2016.

“South Carolina NRCS has provided nearly $6.4 million in assistance to farmers, ranchers and forest managers to enhance conservation on more than 709,000 acres through CSP in South Carolina since 2010,” said NRCS South Carolina State Conservationist Ann English.

Participants with existing CSP contracts that will expire Dec. 31 have the 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 are also due by March 31.

NRCS also makes CSP available to producers as an additional opportunity to participate in regional landscape-level conservation efforts including the Sage Grouse Initiative, Lesser Prairie-Chicken Initiative, Longleaf Pine Initiativeand Ogallala Aquifer Initiative.

Funding is available for more than 100 kinds of enhancements nationwide to help participants:

  • Improve soil quality through use of cover crops, conservation crop rotations and other activities that increase soil productivity.
  • Use water wisely and improve water quality through enhancements such as more efficient irrigation systems and weather monitoring.
  • Restore habitat for wildlife and pollinators such as the greater sage-grouse, lesser prairie-chicken and monarch butterfly through the use of better grazing systems and improved plant management.

A CSP self-screening checklist is available to help producers determine if the program is compatible with their operation. As part of the application process, applicants will work with NRCS field personnel to complete a resource inventory of their land to determine the conservation performance for existing and new conservation activities. The applicant’s conservation performance will be used to determine eligibility, ranking and payments. Learn more about CSP in South Carolina.

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