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At the intersection of food, soil, climate, farming and water.

Farmers: apply to the Conservation Stewardship Program!

Farmers and ranchers will again have the opportunity to apply for the Conservation Stewardship Program, which rewards producers for conservation practices on working lands.  Funding for new acres to be enrolled in 2013 were accidentally left out of the government spending bill that passed last October, but recent legislation corrected that.

Normally the deadline for the annual signup is over the winter. But due to these unusual circumstances, this year the deadline will be sometime during the growing season.

The Conservation Stewardship Program has a continuous signup, so farmers can visit their local NRCS office at any time and begin the application, even before the deadline is announced.

We may not know the official deadline yet, but farmers have a natural deadline: planting season! Farmers can go in and get signed up, and then can decide later what specific practices they want to do.

Since 2009, 50 million acres nationwide have been enrolled in the Conservation Stewardship Program. In Wisconsin, there are 1,978 Conservation Stewardship Program contracts covering over 760,000 acres of cropland, pasture, and non-industrial private forestland. Through five-year contracts, Wisconsin farmers have protected and improved water quality, soil health, and wildlife habitat. Every county in the state has participating farms, which cover a wide range of types and sizes.

With the legislative fix, NRCS can now proceed with enrolling approximately 12 million acres of agricultural land in the program this year.