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Spotlight on CSP Farmer Calvin Sebranek

December 5, 2013

Earlier this year, farmer Calvin Sebranek of Fancy Creek Farms, Richland Center enrolled the 800,000th acre in the USDA’s Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) for the State of Wisconsin. He will be receiving awards from the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP) and USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), highlighting his exemplary stewardship practices and years of commitment to implementing conservation in his operations.

CSP is different from most conservation programs in that it rewards farmers for conservation practices they have already implemented in their operations as well as for adoption of new conservation enhancements. In Wisconsin, payments can be made for enhancements addressing air quality, conserving crop rotations, energy, plant and animal concerns, soil quality, soil erosion, and water quality/quantity issues.

Sebranek says that his family has been farming since 1942, when his father bought 83 acres and established their home farm in Marshall Township. Four different expansion purchases by Sebranek and his father throughout the years have led to an operation that now sits on about 400 acres of diverse farmland.

“We have kind of an unusual farm. We have about 400 acres [total] and we have 300 acres of cropland. We have about 40 acres of woods and really it’s an unusual number. The woods have not been logged since 1977 when we bought that farm so we’re just letting it mature. We have expanded on [the home farm] 4 different times.”

Sebranek rotates between corn and alfalfa for most of his acreage, switching between them every four years or so. He also custom-raises 80 Holstein heifers and has about 250 Holstein steers.

Conservation has always been integral to the Sebranek Family farms. Sebranek decided to enroll his land in CSP, “to leave this farm in better shape than when I found it.”   He applauded NRCS programs for their help. –“They make it work  – like the riprap we built years ago, the [conservation] dam, the water tank storage project that we are going to do another year.. All the programs are great, that’s the best way I can say it. They better everything. We have all 400 acres enrolled in [CSP] in one form or another. Some of it is in the contour strips on the hillside. And the riprap we are doing in the creek now helps the bottom fields. It all benefits from the program.”

Sebranek praised NRCS District Conservationist Carlton Peterson for identifying programs and techniques that could be of use to him and make sense to implement on his land.

Sebranek says that by using conservation practices, farmers can protect the environment and also increase the effectiveness of their operations. “[By using conservation practices] you can raise better crops, control the erosion using no-till on the hillsides, and it’s just the right way to do it. It’s the way I’ve always been taught. It’s the only way I know how to do it.”

Sebranek’s family will be joining him at the awards ceremony on Tuesday, December 10 at the DATCP Board Room, 2811 Agriculture Dr., Madison, WI.

The Natural Resources Conservation Service recently announced another sign-up period for the Conservation Stewardship Program. This sign-up period ushers in the fifth year of the Conservation Stewardship Program, which now has almost 60 million acres enrolled.

Sebranek encourages producers to sign-up immediately for this enrollment period. “I would definitely recommend and encourage any farmer to sign up for the [Conservation Stewardship] Program. It is a great program that preserves and protects wildlife and ecosystems while helping farmers make a living.”

Producers interested in taking the next step to implement conservation practices on their lands need to submit their applications before the Feb. 7th deadline to get funding in 2014.