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Deadline for conservation stewardship program looms

By Staff | Sep 25, 2009

URBANDALE – Farmers who sign up for the new Conservation Stewardship Program before Sept. 30 will have a unique opportunity to qualify for funding for their current conservation practices as well as additional practices they’re willing to adopt.

The Iowa Soybean Association encourages farmers to apply now to increase their chances of being accepted, rather than taking a “wait and see” approach.

“As a grassroots farmer-led organization, ISA believes that practicing conservation on working farms is vital to the quality of our environment and the commercial viability of agriculture,” said Delbert Christiansen, a soybean grower from Audubon and ISA president. “During the Federal Farm Bill debate in 2007, ISA farmer directors advocated for a strong conservation title.

“Among the programs we advocated for was significant reform to what was previously known as the Conservation Security Program.”

Farmers sought a program that was not restricted to watershed areas, was easy to enroll in and had flexibility to assist farmers with achieving their resource objectives, Christensen said. “ISA is hopeful that the ‘new’ CSP will fully realize its promise as a comprehensive and effective nationwide working land conservation program.”

The new CSP is streamlined from the previous program. It is no longer limited to specific areas like watersheds. Also gone is the three-tier structure. Instead there is a single payment mechanism that pays based on the conservation stewardship of a producer’s current practices, as well as additional stewardship activities.

CSP is open for continuous enrollment, with the first ranking period closing Sept. 30. The first ranking period is about 60 days. Applying now could significantly increase one’s chances of being accepted rather than waiting until later when it is likely there will be many more applications.

“Applying is not an obligation to complete the enrollment,” says Roger Wolf, ISA director of environmental programs. “Instead, it is an opportunity to review that program requirements and understand how it impacts one’s particular operation.

“For a couple hours work, you could qualify for up to $40,000 a year in payments for current and additional conservation practices. And going through the process could help you identify areas you could improve in the future by enrolling later.”

For more information about the new CSP and to learn how to apply, go to www.ia.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/scp2009.html or contact a local NRCS service center.

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