By Adam Warthesen, Land Stewardship Project
One of the nation’s most innovative working lands farm conservation initiatives has received a financial reprieve, thanks to the continuing resolution signed by President Barack Obama on Tuesday.
The continuing resolution, which was passed by Congress late last week, appropriates funds to federal government agencies through the remainder of the government’s current fiscal year. The Continuing Resolution also removes previous cuts to the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP).
This is important: previous to passage of the continuing resolution, it was unclear if any CSP sign-up was going to take place this year. But now we’re expecting 12-million acres across the U.S. to be enrolled in CSP this year. That’s good for farmers and good for the farm and conservation landscape.
Since 2009, 50 million acres nationwide have been enrolled in CSP, more than any other farm conservation program over that same period. As this LSP fact sheet shows, Minnesota ranks tops in the nation when it comes to CSP, both in terms of number of contracts (3,232) and dollars obligated (over $260 million). Program demand in Minnesota has remained high, with 1,594 applications submitted in 2012 alone.
Offered through five-year contracts, farmers have used CSP to protect and improve water quality, soil health and wildlife habitat options on land in current production. (To read about how southern Minnesota farmers Arvid and Lois Jovaag have used CSP, see this profile.) The program is available for all types of farm operations, including cropland, pastureland, rangeland or forested acres.
“I enrolled my farm in the Conservation Stewardship Program in 2009 and was able to establish a better resource conserving crop rotation, upgrade my field spraying equipment with innovate technologies and renew a farmstead tree shelterbelt,” says Sibley County, Minn., dairy farmer Darrel Mosel. “All of these practices are good conservation enhancements to my farm and the local community.”
County and regional NRCS offices are currently accepting applications for CSP contracts. LSP’s updated CSP fact sheet has details on how to begin the process of applying to the program. If you’re already practicing conservation or are interested in adopting more stewardship measures, it’s well worth your time to check out this program.