Florida Ag Landowners Encouraged to Apply for Conservation Stewardship Program by February 24
Florida - Wednesday December 28, 2022: Agricultural landowners in Florida are encouraged to apply to participate in the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) by February 24, 2023, to qualify for the program’s current funding cycle.
Through this voluntary conservation program, the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) works one-on-one with producers to develop a conservation plan that outlines and enhances existing efforts while improving their agricultural operations.
Using new conservation practices or activities, agricultural producers can adopt practices and activities that expand on the benefits of cleaner water and air, healthier soil, and better wildlife habitat, all based on management objectives specific to their farming operation.
Although CSP applications are accepted on a continuing basis, the current funding cycle for Florida NRCS CSP applications closes on February 24, 2023. All applications received after that date will be considered for a future funding cycle. Funding pools allow CSP to target funding to specific natural resource concerns.
“If you are already taking steps to improve the condition of the land, chances are, CSP can help you find new ways to meet your goals,” said Juan C. Hernandez, State Conservationist for NRCS in Florida. “CSP offers annual payments for implementing conservation practices on your land and operating and maintaining existing conservation efforts.”
An NRCS conservation planner works closely with the landowner throughout the entire contract process. Contract payments are based on two components:
• Payments to maintain the existing level of conservation, based on the land uses included in the contract and an NRCS assessment of existing stewardship at the time of enrollment
• Payments to implement additional conservation activities
The CSP is for working lands and is the largest conservation program in the U.S. Thousands of people voluntarily enroll in the program, because it helps them enhance natural resources and improve their business operation. The program represents a genuine commitment to conservation – CSP contracts are for five years, with the opportunity to compete for a contract renewal if the landowner successfully fulfills the initial contract and agrees to achieve additional conservation objectives.
NRCS may provide a minimum annual payment of $1,500 in any year the Chief determines the total contract payment amount is below a base level.
Eligible CSP lands include:
• Associated Ag Land
• Non-industrial private forestland
Eligible CSP persons include:
• Agricultural producers
• Indian Tribes
• Owners of non-industrial private forestland
• Those with an interest in the agricultural or forestry operations
Additionally, farm records must be established or updated with the Farm Service Agency for both the person(s) and the land for your application to be eligible and evaluated. Farm records for the person must indicate the applicant:
• Controls or owns eligible land
• Is in compliance with highly erodible land and wetland conservation requirements
• Meets adjusted gross income (AGI) and payment limitation provisions
Once an application has been filed and determined to be eligible for CSP, the local NRCS conservation planner will have a one-on-one consultation with the applicant to evaluate the concerns for the land or natural resource conditions. An NRCS conservation planner will present conservation practices or enhancements to improve and protect these natural resources.
More on NRCS
NRCS has 34 field offices throughout Florida with teams ready to help landowners with conservation programs. Contact your local NRCS field office for more information. Download an CSP application form.
Amber Till, Assistant State Conservationist for Financial Assistance Programs, firstname.lastname@example.org
Diana Avellanet, CSP Program Specialist, email@example.com
Cynthia Portalatin, Public Affairs Specialist, firstname.lastname@example.org