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Applications for Conservation Stewardship Program due January 17

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is opening the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) for new enrollments for federal fiscal year 2014. Through Friday, January 17, producers interested in participating in the program can submit applications to the NRCS.

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“Through the Conservation Stewardship Program, farmers, ranchers and forest landowners are going the extra mile to conserve our nation’s resources,” said NRCS district conservationist Mark Dybdal.

The CSP is a Farm Bill conservation program that helps established conservation stewards by improving agricultural production and providing valuable conservation benefits such as cleaner water, as well as healthier soils and better wildlife habitat, according to NRCS district conservationist Mark Dybdal.

The program emphasizes conservation performance. Producers earn higher payments for higher performance.

In CSP, producers install conservation enhancements to make positive changes in soil quality, soil erosion, water quality, water quantity, air quality, plant resources, animal resources and energy.

Some enhancements used by farmers in Minnesota include:

● Using new nozzles that reduce the drift of pesticides, lowering input costs and making sure pesticides are used where they are most needed.

● Modifying water facilities to prevent bats and bird species from being trapped.

● Establishing pollinator and/or beneficial insect habitat.

● High level integrated pest management, reducing pesticide risk to the environment.

● Rotating feeding areas and monitoring key grazing areas to improve grazing management.

A CSP self-screening checklist is available to help producers determine if the program is suitable for their operation. The checklist highlights basic information about CSP eligibility requirements, stewardship threshold requirements and payment types.

For the checklist or to learn more about CSP, visit a local USDA NRCS office or