HURON — The next deadline for Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) applications to be considered for funding in Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 is May 29, 2020.

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) plans to invest up to $500 million for new enrollments in Fiscal Year 2020. The 2018 Farm Bill made several changes to this critical conservation program, which helps agricultural producers take the conservation activities on their farm or ranch to the next level.

“CSP continues to be a very effective tool for private landowners working to achieve their conservation and management goals,” said Jeff Zimprich, South Dakota State Conservationist, Huron, “It is the largest conservation program in the United States with more than 70 million acres of productive agricultural and forest land enrolled.”

While applications are accepted throughout the year, interested producers should contact their local NRCS Field Office to discuss how to submit applications by May 29, 2020, to ensure their applications are considered for 2020 funding.

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CHANGES TO THE PROGRAM

The 2018 Farm Bill authorizes NRCS to accept new CSP enrollments from 2019 until 2023, and it makes some important improvements to the program. These updates include:

• NRCS now enrolls eligible, high ranking applications based on dollars rather than acres. For FY2020, NRCS can spend up to $500 million in the program, which covers part of the cost for producers implementing new conservation activities and maintaining their existing activities.

• Higher payment rates are now available for certain conservation activities, including cover crops and resource conserving crop rotations.

• CSP now provides specific support for organic and for transitioning to organic production activities and a special grassland conservation initiative for certain producers who have maintained cropland base acres.

• A participant may now enroll public land on which he is the operator.

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ABOUT THE PROGRAM

CSP is offered in South Dakota through continuous sign-ups. The program provides many benefits including increased crop yields, decreased inputs, wildlife habitat improvements and increased resilience to weather extremes. CSP is for working lands including cropland, pastureland, rangeland, non-industrial private forest land, and agricultural land under the jurisdiction of a Tribe.

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MORE INFORMATION

Specialists with the USDA NRCS are respecting social distancing and are available by phone or email. Visit farmers.gov/service-center-locator to find a directory with your local office and employee contact information.

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