Temple, TEXAS – Nov. 10, 2016 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is now accepting and processing applications for enrollment in the updated Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP).

Through CSP, agricultural producers and forest landowners earn payments for actively managing, maintaining, and expanding conservation activities like cover crops, ecologically-based pest management, buffer strips, and pollinator and beneficial insect habitat – all while maintaining active agriculture production on their land. CSP also encourages the adoption of cutting-edge technologies and new management techniques.

“This year, the Conservation Stewardship Program provides even more opportunities for conservation and greater flexibility at the local level to prioritize resource concerns and conservation approaches,” says Texas NRCS State Conservationist Salvador Salinas. “Customized CSP tools for Texas will improve the customer experience during application evaluations.”

NRCS has made several updates to the program. Producers are now able to better evaluate their conservation options and the resultant benefits to their operations and natural resources. The implementation of new methods and software for evaluating applications will help producers learn quickly if they are or are not meeting stewardship thresholds, in turn allowing them to pick practices and enhancements that better fit their conservation goals and objectives. The CSP application software updates also provide producers with potential payment scenarios for conservation practices earlier in the application process.

NRCS offices will begin processing CSP applications on Nov. 14, 2016, with the first priority funding ranking period ending Feb. 3, 2017. Applications are available at local USDA Service Centers. 

CSP is for producers who are already established conservation stewards, helping them to deliver multiple conservation benefits on working lands, including improved water and soil quality and enhanced wildlife habitat. People interested in the additional opportunities the updated CSP offers can find information,including national and state ranking questions and enhancement descriptions, on the new CSP web portal at http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/csp.