In just five years, America’s top conservationists have enrolled 50 million acres in the federal Conservation Stewardship Program, which is geared toward private landowners who are already using conservation – and want to take it to the next level.
This year, nearly 12.2 million acres were added to the program’s rolls, making it the program of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service that has enrolled the most acres. The land enrolled in CSP is bigger than 78,000 square miles, an area larger than Pennsylvania and South Carolina combined. From improving soil health to sending cleaner water downstream, the 39,000-plus landowners who have participated in the program are improving the environment, including the landscape here in Iowa. Landowners in Iowa have enrolled more than 1.4 million acres into CSP.
“The Conservation Stewardship Program allows our conservation-minded farmers, ranchers and forest landowners to go that extra mile in conserving natural resources,” Iowa NRCS State Conservationist Jay Mar said. “This program leads to cleaner air and water, enhanced wildlife habitat and healthier soil, among many other benefits. I encourage you to check out CSP and see if it’s right for you.”
Dallas County farmer Brent Voss implemented a suite of conservation practices that address wildlife habitat, soil erosion, water quality, and pasture management. For example, Voss planted 75 acres of cover crops in a cropland area most susceptible to soil erosion. He also made changes to how he harvests hay to allow wildlife to flush and escape.
Landowners in all states and territories can enroll in CSP. NRCS local offices accept CSP applications year round and evaluate applications during announced ranking periods.
A CSP self-screening checklist is available to help producers determine if CSP is suitable for their operation. The checklist highlights basic information about CSP eligibility requirements, contract obligations and potential payments. It is available from local NRCS offices and on the CSP website.