With a February 3 deadline for farmers to apply to USDA’s Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) approaching if they want their application considered in 2017, MFAI announced today that the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will join the Institute on January 26 to present a webinar for farmers on how to sign up.
CSP both rewards farmers for existing conservation and helps them improve or create new conservation practices on their land. Contracts require a five year commitment with the option to renew, and payments are based on maintaining existing conservation operations on the land and/or implementing additional activities. Last fall, NRCS celebrated Wisconsin farmers’ having enrolled over 1,000,000 acres in CSP.
MFAI’s Policy Program Director, Margaret Krome, noted that NRCS recently announced changes in CSP, including new tools to assess farmers’ eligibility and rank applications, a new minimum payment of $1,500, added flexibility for mid-contract changes, expanded options for enhancements, practices, and bundles of practices, and a redesigned payment structure.
“We want farmers to understand these changes, and we’re pleased that Wisconsin NRCS will join us in offering this webinar,” said Krome. “Wisconsin NRCS’s program manager for CSP, Ryan Gerlich, will tell farmers what they need to know so they can apply by February 3. The webinar is timed so farmers can eat lunch while watching, ask questions, and then act to get their applications in on time.”
Participating in the webinar is easy: https://usda.adobeconnect.com/r1xvxi7oip3/
and dial in to the conference number: 1-888-844-9904, participant code: 2674600 Please remember to MUTE your phones. Test your connection at the following link ahead of time: https://usda.adobeconnect.com/common/help/en/support/meeting_test.htm
The Institute also pointed out that the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) had prepared a Farmers’ Guide to the Conservation Stewardship Program, which includes enrollment guidance, key definitions, explanations of the ranking and payment system, and helpful hints for accessing the program and is available for free download on the NSAC website
Although farmers can apply for CSP at any point of the year, the deadline to apply and have all eligibility complete for 2017 participation is Friday, February 3rd. Farmers who do not submit an application before this deadline will have to wait until 2018 for their application to be considered.