Conservation Stewardship Program

Through CSP, NRCS will provide financial and technical assistance to eligible producers to conserve and enhance soil, water, air, and related natural resources on their land.

Eligible lands include cropland, grassland, prairie land, improved pastureland, rangeland, nonindustrial private forest
lands, agricultural land under the jurisdiction of an Indian tribe, and other private agricultural land (including cropped woodland, marshes, and agricultural land used for the production of livestock) on which resource concerns related to agricultural production could be addressed.

Participation in the program is voluntary.



CSP encourages land stewards to improve their conservation performance by installing and adopting additional activities, and improving, maintaining, and managing existing activities on agricultural land and nonindustrial private forest land.

The NRCS will make CSP available nationwide on a continuous application basis.


Agency - Department of Agriculture

Established in 1862, the Department of Agriculture serves all Americans through anti-hunger efforts, stewardship of nearly 200 million acres of national forest and rangelands, and through product safety and conservation efforts. The USDA opens markets for American farmers and ranchers and provides food for needy people around the world.

Office - See Regional Agency Offices.

Consult the local telephone directory for location of the NRCS office.

Directories can also be found under the "contact us" menu at www.nrcs.usda.gov.


Program Accomplishments

Not Applicable.

Uses and Use Restrictions

CSP is available on Tribal and private agricultural lands, as well as nonindustrial private forest lands in all 50 States, the District of Columbia, and the Caribbean and Pacific Islands Areas.

The entire operation must be enrolled and must include all eligible land that will be under the applicant"s control for the term of the proposed contract that is operated substantially separate from other operations.

Land enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program (7 CFR part 1410), Wetlands Reserve Program (7 CFR part 1467), Grasslands Reserve Program (7 CFR part 1415), and Conservation Security Program (CFR part 1469) are ineligible for CSP.

The 2008 Act limits eligibility to ""private agricultural land; as such, land that is owned by a Federal, State, or local unit of government, with the exception of agricultural land under the jurisdiction of an Indian Tribe, is ineligible, regardless of the status of the operator.

Additionally, a participant may not receive payment for land used for crop production after June 18, 2008, that had not been planted, considered to be planted, or devoted to crop production for at least four of the six years preceding that date, unless the land was: previously enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program; maintained using long-term rotations, such as hayland in rotation; or incidental to the operation but needed for the efficient management of the operation.

An example of land considered ""incidental to the operation that may be eligible for payment is land that had once been used for buildings and is now being used for crop production to square up a cropland field.



Eligibility Requirements

Applicant Eligibility

The program provides equitable access to all producers, regardless of operation size, crops produced, or geographic location.

Individual producers, legal entities, corporations, and Indian Tribes may be eligible for the program.



Eligible lands include cropland, grassland, prairie land, improved pastureland, rangeland, nonindustrial private forest land, and agricultural land under the jurisdiction of an Indian tribe (covered in 508 Subpart F, 508.53 and 1470.6b).

As stated in the Federal Register, 1470.6a, Applicants must be the operator of record in the USDA farm records management system for the eligible land being offered for enrollment; have documented control of the land for the term of the proposed contract; include the eligible land in their entire operation as represented for other USDA programs; and be in compliance with the highly erodible land and wetland conservation provisions of 7 CFR Part 12, and adjusted gross income provisions of 7 CFR part 1400.

The applicants operation must also meet a stewardship threshold (covered in 508 Subpart F, 508.54).

Beneficiary Eligibility

The program provides equitable access to all producers, regardless of operation size, crops produced, or geographic location. Individual producers, legal entities, corporations, and Indian Tribes may be eligible for the program.

Eligible lands include cropland, grassland, prairie land, improved pastureland, rangeland, nonindustrial private forest land, and agricultural land under the jurisdiction of an Indian tribe (covered in 508 Subpart F, 508.53 and 1470.6b). As stated in the Federal Register, 1470.6a, Applicants must be the operator of record in the USDA farm records management system for the eligible land being offered for enrollment; have documented control of the land for the term of the proposed contract; include the eligible land in their entire operation as represented for other USDA programs; and be in compliance with the highly erodible land and wetland conservation provisions of 7 CFR Part 12, and adjusted gross income provisions of 7 CFR part 1400. The applicants operation must also meet a stewardship threshold (covered in 508 Subpart F, 508.54).

Credentials/Documentation

The participant must have control of the land offered for the length of the contract period. NRCS requires all program payments be made by direct deposit unless the participant requests a waiver as described in 31 CFR Part 208.4, paragraph (a). This program is excluded from coverage under OMB Circular No. A-87.

Aplication and Award Process

Preapplication Coordination

A programmatic environmental assessment has been prepared in association with this rulemaking.

The analysis has determined that there will not be a significant impact to the human environment and as a result an Environmental Impact Statement is not required to be prepared (40 CFR part 1508.13).

An environmental impact assessment is required for this program.

This program is excluded from coverage under E.O.

12372.

Application Procedures

OMB Circular No. A-102 applies to this program. OMB Circular No. A-110 applies to this program. A programmatic environmental assessment has been prepared in association with this rulemaking. The analysis has determined that there will not be a significant impact to the human environment and as a result an Environmental Impact Statement is not required to be prepared (40 CFR part 1508.13).

Award Procedures

Once applicant and land eligibility are determined, the NRCS field office will assist the producer with completing the CMT resource inventory. CMT will estimate the level of environmental benefit to be achieved by the applicant. The CMT conservation performance scoring will enable NRCS to determine if the stewardship threshold requirement is met, rank applications, and establish payments.

Applicants will be ranked relative to other applicants who face similar resource challenges in State-established ranking pools using conservation performance ranking scores. For approved applicants, NRCS will conduct on-site field verification to substantiate that conservation activity and production system information represented by the applicant was accurate. After the conservation system information is verified, NRCS and the applicant proceed to develop the conservation stewardship plan and contract. Upon approval, the contract will obligate the participant to achieve a higher level of conservation performance by installing additional activities scheduled in their conservation stewardship plan and to maintain the level of existing conservation performance identified at the time of application.

Deadlines

Contact the headquarters or regional office, as appropriate, for application deadlines.

Authorization

Food Security Act of 1985
, Public Law 106-224, NA Stat. NA, 16 U.S.C 3838h.

Range of Approval/Disapproval Time

From 60 to 90 days.

Appeals

A participant may obtain administrative review in accordance with 7 CFR parts 11 and 614 for an adverse decision. Participants cannot appeal payment rates, payment limits, and cost-share percentages, eligible conservation practices, or other matters of general applicability. Before a participant can seek judicial review, the participant must exhaust all administrative appeal procedures.

Renewals

At the end of an initial conservation stewardship contract, NRCS will allow a participant to renew the contract to receive payments for one additional five year period, subject to the availability of funds. To be considered for contract renewal, the participant must be in compliance with the terms of their initial contract as determined by NRCS; add any newly acquired eligible land that is part of the agricultural operation and meets minimum treatment criteria as established and determined by NRCS; meet stewardship thresholds for additional priority resource concerns as determined by NRCS; and agree to adopt conservation activities as determined by NRCS.

Assistance Considerations

Formula and Matching Requirements

Statutory Formula: Subject to the availability of funds, NRCS will offer participants two potential types of payment. As outlined in 508.90, an annual payment will be made for installing and adopting additional conservation activities, and improving, maintaining, and managing existing activities. A supplemental payment can also be made to a participant receiving annual payments, who also agrees to adopt a resource-conserving crop rotation.
Matching requirements are not applicable to this program.
MOE requirements are not applicable to this program.

Length and Time Phasing of Assistance

NRCS will make payments as soon as practicable after October 1 of each fiscal year for activities carried out in the previous fiscal year. CSP payments to a person or legal entity may not exceed $40,000 in any year and $200,000 during any 5-year period. Each CSP contract will be limited to $200,000 over the term of the initial contract period. The above limitations exclude funding arrangements with federally recognized Indian tribes or Alaska Native corporations as described in CPM 440, Part 508, Section 508.95(C). Method of awarding/releasing assistance: lump sum.

Post Assistance Requirements

Reports

Program reports are not applicable.

Cash reports are not applicable.

The Designated Conservationist will review contract implementation with the participant annually.

Annual reviews will be completed early enough in the year to allow for completion of any necessary corrective actions prior to issuance of the annual payment.

Expenditure reports are not applicable.

Performance monitoring is not applicable.

Audits

This program is excluded from coverage under OMB Circular No. A-133. Recipients are subject to audit by the Office of Inspector General, USDA.

Records

As stipulated in 508.76 B, the applicant must make available to NRCS upon request appropriate records documenting applied conservation activity and production system information. NRCS will request records when conducting field verification with pre-approved applicants. The designated conservationist does not need to collect, store, or re-calculate the data contained in the applicant s records, but instead will examine the field conditions and records to determine whether or not they substantiate the CMT resource inventory information provided by the applicant during the application process. As covered in 508.76 C, NRCS will request written records and conduct on-site field verification to substantiate that the conservation activity and production system information represented by each approved applicant during the CMT resource inventory was accurate.

Financial Information

Account Identification

12-1004-0-1-302.

Obigations

(Salaries) FY 12 $70,074,339; FY 13 est $98,509,800; and FY 14 est $114,971,000. (Cooperative Agreements) FY 12 $671,545,544; FY 13 est $847,395,500; and FY 14 est $874,029,000

Range and Average of Financial Assistance

CSP payments to a person or legal entity may not exceed $40,000 in any year and $200,000 during any 5-year period. Each CSP contract will be limited to $200,000 over the term of the initial contract period. The above limitations exclude funding arrangements with federally recognized Indian tribes or Alaska Native corporations as described in CPM 440, Part 508, Section 508.95(C). The program shall have a national average rate of $18 per acre.

Regulations, Guidelines, and Literature

Congress authorized the enrollment of 12,769,000 acres for each fiscal year (FY) for the period beginning October 1, 2008, and ending on September 30, 2017. For fiscal years 2009 through 2012, CSP has been authorized 51,076,000 acres (four years multiplied by a 12,769,000 acre program cap per year). In the first sign up, 21, 281 applications were submitted covering approximately 33,000,000 acres.

Information Contacts

Regional or Local Office

See Regional Agency Offices. Consult the local telephone directory for location of the NRCS office. Directories can also be found under the "contact us" menu at www.nrcs.usda.gov.

Headquarters Office

Jeffrey White USDA, NRCS
Financial Assistance Programs Division
14th and Independence Ave., SW
Room 5239-S
, Washington, District of Columbia 20250 Email: Jeffrey.White@wdc.usda.gov Phone: 202-720-1844

Criteria for Selecting Proposals

All applications which meet the sign-up criteria will be placed in an enrollment category until field verification against records is made, upon which applications will be funded in priority order until the available funds are exhausted.



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