Conservation Stewardship Program Alert

By Carl Mattson, Program Coordinator, Montana MarketManager

The Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) sign-up for 2009 is expected to be announced during the first half of August. The premier conservation program has undergone a substantial make over in the 2008 Farm Bill. One significant change will be program availability on a competitive application basis to all agricultural producers in Montana.

Although the rules for CSP have not been released and many of the particulars are still unknown at this time, MSGA thought it important to provide as much notice to members as possible. MSGA does know the following:

-Sign-up is expected to start in early August 2009. August 10th has been mentioned
-The sign-up period is anticipated to extend only through September 30, 2009
-Information will be available soon at your local NRCS office
-All agricultural operations are eligible to submit an application for a CSP contract
-Contracts will be awarded on a ranking system basis
-The ranking system will consider current and future conservation practices that address 5 determined Montana natural resource concerns centering around soil, water and wildlife
-A pre-determined number of acres will be available for enrollment in each state and contracts will be awarded to match the acres available
-The awarded contracts should be multi-year and for a substantial dollar amount

The timing for this CSP sign-up is not the most convenient for Montana livestock and crop producers but then they never have been. For those interested in submitting an application it will be important to stay in contact with your local NRCS office and gather the CSP information as soon as it becomes available. For those with access to the internet, information should also appear on the national and state NRCS website soon after the sign-up has been officially announced. MSGA suggests printing the available information. After acquiring the CSP information it is anticipated that a producer should be able to go through the information and determine whether he wishes to continue pursuing the application process.

NRCS will also be conducting as many CSP informational workshops as the short time period will allow. Your local NRCS staff will do their best to assist with the process but will likely find themselves similarly concerned with the constricted timeline. Like other USDA programs implementation of the CSP program has been held up in Washington D.C. for months; we are still awaiting the release of the rules. The NRCS staff from Washington D.C. to Montana is doing their very best to make this program available to producers before the end the nation’s fiscal year on September 30th. Please be patient as we all try to learn the process.

Authors of the 2008 Farm Bill intended the CSP to be available on a yearly basis to all livestock and crop producers in the United States for as long as the current legislation is in effect. If you are unable to assemble your operation’s information for this year’s CSP contract; MSGA anticipates there to be another opportunity each year through 2012. For more information contact the MSGA office at 406-442-3420.


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