Extension offers more local producers to participate in Popular Farm Bill Conservation Stewardship program
MORGANTOWN, WV, January 8, 2014 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) opened the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) for new enrollments for federal fiscal year 2014 in December 2013. Producers interested in participating in the program may submit applications to NRCS through February 7, 2014. NRCS extended the January 17 application deadline by three weeks for maximum participation.
“The Conservation Stewardship Program supports West Virginia farmers and ranchers who voluntarily take action to use our conservation practices to improve the management of their properties,” NRCS State Conservationist Kevin Wickey said. “With the CSP program, they are improving the quality of their soil, water and other key resources creating sustainable land. Extending the deadline is an excellent way to allow for more land owners to participate and increase productivity in West Virginia.”
CSP is now in its fifth year and so far, NRCS has partnered with producers to enroll more than 160,000 acres across the state of West Virginia. 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.
“NRCS is focused on promoting environmental conservation and strengthening the rural economic at the same time,” Wickey said. “CSP is a comprehensive program that allows for both to occur. It is completely voluntary and extending the deadline will provide more farmers and ranchers in West Virginia the opportunity to apply.”
- Some popular enhancements used by West Virginia farmers and ranchers under CSP include:
- Using new nozzles that reduce the drift of pesticides, lowering input costs and making sure pesticides are used where they are most needed;
- Modifying water facilities to prevent bats and bird species from being trapped;
- Burning patches of land, mimicking prairie fires to enhance wildlife habitat; and
- Rotating feeding areas and monitoring key grazing areas to improve grazing management.
Local NRCS offices accept and evaluate CSP applications year round. Application evaluations only take place during announced ranking periods. For consideration in the 2014 federal fiscal year eligible landowners must enroll by submitting their application no later than February 7, 2014.
A CSP self-screening checklist is available to help producers determine if the program is suitable for their operation. The checklist highlights basic information about CSP eligibility requirements, stewardship threshold requirements and payment types. Learn more about CSP by visiting www.wv.nrcs.usda.gov or www.nrcs.usda.gov.