Conservation Stewardship Program Applications Due by May 31

Washington, D.C., May 1, 2013 -- Today, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced that applications for the fiscal year (FY) 2013 sign up of the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) will be due by May 31. USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will accept slightly more than 12 million acres into the program.

While CSP enrollment is continuous, interested farmers, ranchers, and forestland owners must complete the initial application form by May 31 to compete for a spot in the 2013 enrollment class for the program.

Earlier this month, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, which helped develop the program and has followed its progress closely, issued an Information Alert on the 2013 sign-up. In addition to providing the timeline for the sign-up and enrollment process, the Alert includes basic sign-up information and describes changes made to the program for this sign-up, including new conservation enhancements being offered. We encourage interested organizations and individuals to post or forward the Information Alert to help get the word out to farmers and ranchers about this pending opportunity.

"This is a great opportunity for producers to enhance and build upon the conservation that they are doing on their land," said NSAC Policy Associate, Greg Fogel. "However, we are operating under an extremely tight deadline, so farmers and ranchers must act quickly to complete their initial application form."

This year's enrollment was delayed for six months while Congress negotiated and passed a final "continuing resolution" to fund government programs through the end of this fiscal year. The delay means that this year's cut-off date for applications is much later than usual. It also means that the agency will have to move very quickly through the enrollment process in order to finish on time.

CSP is an innovative working lands conservation program that rewards farmers and ranchers for the conservation and environmental benefits they produce. CSP is administered by NRCS and available on a nationwide basis. CSP offers technical and financial assistance to farmers for adopting and maintaining high standards of resource conservation and environmental stewardship. Assistance is geared to both the active management of existing conservation systems and to the implementation of new conservation activities on land in agricultural production.

In the first four enrollment years for CSP (2009-2012), more than 39,000 farmers and ranchers have enrolled over 50 million acres of farm and ranch land. Land that is now under five-year, renewable CSP conservation contracts is valued at $680 million a year.

In addition to information available in the newly released Information Alert, producers will find more detailed information about CSP in NSAC's Farmers' Guide to the Conservation Stewardship Program, available for free download at http://sustainableagriculture.net/publications/. The Guide provides clear information on conservation activities eligible for CSP payments to improve conservation performance and environmental benefits. It also includes step-by-step enrollment guidance, key definitions, and helpful hints.

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