By Phyllis Zorn, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
Applications for new enrollment in the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service Conservation Stewardship Program will be accepted through Jan. 17.
“Through the Conservation Stewardship Program, farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners are going the extra mile to conserve our nation’s resources,” NRCS Chief Jason Weller said. “Through their conservation actions, they are ensuring that their operations are more productive and sustainable over the long run.”
Eligible landowners and operators in Oklahoma must enroll in CSP by Jan. 17 to be eligible during the 2014 federal fiscal year. While local NRCS offices accept CSP applications year round, applications are only evaluated during announced ranking periods.
A CSP self-screening checklist is available to help producers determine if the program is suitable for them. The checklist highlights basic information about CSP eligibility requirements, stewardship threshold requirements and payment types.
“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,” said Gary O’Neill, state conservationist for Oklahoma.
This announcement is another example of USDA’s comprehensive focus on promoting environmental conservation and strengthening the rural economy, and it is a reminder that a new farm bill is pivotal to continue these efforts, Weller said. CSP is now in its fifth year and so far, NRCS has partnered with producers to enroll more than 59 million acres across the nation.
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.
To learn more about CSP, go to www.nrcs.usda.gov or visit a local NRCS field office.