Community Agriculture Alliance: Opportunity to help increase conservation efforts

Nakayla Lestina
Community Agriculture Alliance

Have you been considering increasing the level of conservation on your property and wonder what opportunities are available? If so, the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service may have a program that will help you explore some possibilities.

NRCS has an opportunity called the “Conservation Stewardship Program” that provides a wide array of practices and enhancements that can help reach a higher level of conservation. Through this program, producers will agree to implement new practices or enhancements while maintaining their baseline level of conservation that is assessed at the beginning of the process.

Through the assessment, all land use acres will be evaluated, looking at the current conservation efforts to determine the number of resource concerns that are meeting NRCS planning criteria. This process will result in two types of annual payments that the producer will receive for five years.

One payment will be a land use acreage payment, and the other is a resource concern payment. Then additional payments can be received based on the implemented practices or enhancements selected that will increase the current conservation level. Each practice or enhancement that is selected will require recordkeeping throughout the year, which will then be turned in to NRCS to be reviewed, ensuring that requirements are being met for payments to be issued.

The typical timeframe for the program is that records will be kept from October of the current year to September of the following year. It is encouraged that records are turned in throughout the year, but most of the information needs to be turned into NRCS by the end of August.

This allows for review and certification of the practices or enhancements so payments can be issued between October and February. With this timeframe for payments, producers can select for their payment to be issued in the current calendar year or the following calendar year. 

If CSP sounds like a program that you are interested in, reach out to your local NRCS office by visiting us at our office at 1475 Pine Grove Road, Ste. 201A, in Steamboat Springs or giving us a call at 970-879-3225 to discuss your operation.

We can then help determine if the program is a good fit, and what practices or enhancements will work for your operation that address or improve resource concerns. Also, be on the lookout for more information on a CSP workshop that will go more in depth on the application process and provide examples of the practices or enhancements available.

Nakayla Lestina is a member of Resource Team 1 for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.

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