The U.S. Department of Agriculture will make $100 million available this year through the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP). Applications are accepted all year; however, interested farmers and forest landowners should submit applications by February 27, 2015, to ensure consideration for this year’s funding (applications received after that date will be considered for future funding). The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) administers CSP and may enroll up to 7.7 million acres this year.
“CSP provides an incentive for farmers and private forest managers who already practice conservation on their land to achieve even higher levels of stewardship,” said Terry Cosby, Ohio’s NRCS State Conservationist. “By addressing multiple resource concerns, such as soil erosion, air, and water quality, landowners maintain or increase the productivity of their operations on a more sustainable landscape.”
Cosby said CSP producers are conservation leaders, showing how science-based conservation and technological advancements can improve the environment and farming operations at the same time. For example, Joe Celuch, a farmer in Ohio’s Appalachian foothills, fenced cattle out of ponds and streams, installed diversions to slow down and re-route surface water runoff, and developed a rotational grazing system to provide better forage cover in his pastures. This stewardship of natural resources, incentivized through CSP, helps to not only benefit his cattle, but also leads to cleaner water and healthier soil.