MORGANTOWN — Producers interested in participating in the 2014 Conservation Stewardship Program may submit their applications to the United States Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service through Jan. 17, 2014.
The stewardship program is a Farm Bill conservation program that helps established conservation stewards with taking their level of natural resource management to the next level to improve both their agricultural production and provide valuable conservation benefits such as cleaner and more abundant water, as well as healthier soils and better wildlife habitat.
The CSP is now in its 5th year and so far, NRCS has partnered with producers to enroll more than 160,000 acres across West Virginia.
“CSP is a great way for our producers to increase their productivity by implementing conservation processes into their day to day operations,” said NRCS State Conservationist Kevin Wickey. “Since 2009, we have awarded more than 750 contracts and obligated more than $6 million to support our land owners in creating sustainable resources statewide.”
The program emphasizes conservation performance — producers earn higher payments for higher performance. In CSP, producers install conservation enhancements to make positive changes in soil quality, soil erosion, water quality, water quantity, air quality, plant resources, animal resources and energy.
Some popular enhancements used by farmers and ranchers include using new nozzles that reduce the drift of pesticides, lowering input costs and making sure pesticides are used where they are most needed; modifying water facilities to prevent bats and bird species from being trapped; burning patches of land to mimic prairie fires to enhance wildlife habitat; and rotating feeding areas and monitoring key grazing areas to improve grazing management.
Local NRCS offices accept and evaluate CSP applications year round. Application evaluations only take place during announced ranking periods. For consideration in the 2014 federal fiscal year eligible landowners must enroll by submitting their application no later than Jan. 17, 2014.
A CSP self-screening checklist is available to help producers determine if the program is suitable for their operation. The checklist highlights basic information about CSP eligibility requirements, stewardship threshold requirements and payment types. Learn more about CSP by visiting wv.nrcs.usda.gov or nrcs.usda.gov.