News Date: 03/24/2008

       Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer has announced a sign-up for the Conservation Security Program (CSP) that will be available starting on April 18. CSP is a voluntary conservation program that provides payments for ongoing environmental management and stewardship on agricultural working lands. 
       The CSP sign-up will be open in 51 watersheds from April 18 to May 16 with potentially 64,000 farms and ranches eligible to participate in the program. CSP is offered on a rotational basis in as many watersheds as funding allows. USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) asks potential participants to complete a CSP self-assessment workbook (available on the NRCS website or from local NRCS offices) to find out if their operation meets the requirements of the program and qualifies for program participation. When this process is completed, the producer submits the CSP workbook to the local NRCS office during the sign-up period and meets with NRCS personnel to go over any additional needed documentation. NRCS will then determine if eligibility requirements are met and provide options for the producer's decision on enrollment category placement. 
       CSP payments can include three components: 1) an annual stewardship component for the base level of conservation treatment; 2) an annual component for maintenance of existing conservation practices; and 3) an enhancement component for exceptional conservation effort. Enhancement activities could include limited pesticide applications, renewable energy generation, and widening existing riparian forest buffers for restoring critical stream habitat. Additional information on CSP, including eligible watersheds and a CSP self-assessment workbook, is available at (Contact: Charlie Ingram)