NRCS announces changes to CSP starting later this year | TSLN.com

NRCS announces changes to CSP starting later this year

The Agriculture Department's Natural Resources Conservation Service announced last week that it will make a number of changes to the Conservation Stewardship Program beginning with a new enrollment period later this year.

"After hearing from farmers, ranchers, and partners who wanted to see improvements to the Conservation Stewardship Program, we're launching this update to make a successful program work even better," said NRCS Chief Jason Weller in a news release.

"We've redesigned the program to provide for greater local involvement, offer more opportunities for conservation and innovation on working lands, and make the connection between actions and outcomes more accessible to producers. Together, we can help those that grow our food and fiber take conservation efforts on working lands to the next level."

According to an agency news release, "NRCS has developed new CSP tools that function similarly to other standard NRCS tools, which will better integrate CSP into the suite of NRCS conservation programs."

"With these new tools, producers will be able to see up front why they are or are not meeting stewardship thresholds, allowing them to pick practices and enhancements that work for their conservation objectives. The new tools also allow producers to see potential payment scenarios for conservation early in the process, allowing them to better evaluate their conservation options."

CSP will offer nearly double the enhancements and conservation practice opportunities as before, taking advantage of emerging trends and conservation practices to be more responsive to producers' goals and capabilities, the agency said.

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For example, CSP will offer producers four new enhancements that utilize gypsum as a soil amendment, which has been shown to improve water quality by reducing dissolved phosphorus and reducing the potential for pathogens to reach ground and surface water from manure.

CSP will also offer support in the production of biochar following fuel reduction harvests or wildfires. NRCS will also offer enhancements for on-site carbon storage and planting for high carbon sequestration rate, while expanding on investments in monarch habitat improvement by supporting the establishment of habitat in pastures.

The new enrollment period will be after the 2017 fiscal year begins on October 1.

–The Hagstrom Report

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