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September 04, 2009   Email to Friend 

(334) 613-4212
September 04, 2009

AUBURN, Ala., -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is currently accepting applications for continuous sign-up for the new Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP. The first signup period will end on September 30. CSP is a voluntary program that encourages agricultural and forestry producers to maintain existing conservation activities and adopt additional ones on their operations.

"This program will help Alabama's agricultural and forestry producers reach greater levels of conservation performance, which will help protect our land and water," said State Conservationist Dr. William Puckett. "The conservation benefits derived from maintaining and enhancing Alabama's natural resources will improve the quality of soil and water, assist in addressing global climate change, and encourage environmentally responsible energy production."

The Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (2008 Farm Bill) authorized CSP. Congress renamed and revamped the former Conservation Security Program in its entirety to improve its availability and appeal to agricultural and forestry producers. The USDA-NRCS administers CSP. Eligible lands include cropland, grassland, prairie, improved pastureland, rangeland, non-industrial private forestland-a new land use for the program-and agricultural land under the jurisdiction of an Indian tribe.

Eligible applicants may include individual operators, legal entities, and Indian tribes. The program will be offered to producers in Alabama through continuous sign-ups. Agricultural and forestry producers must submit applications by September 30, 2009, to be considered for funding in the first ranking period. Congress capped the annual acreage enrollment at 12,769,000 acres for each fiscal year nationwide.

To apply for the newly revamped CSP, potential participants are encouraged to use a self-screening checklist to determine whether the new program is suitable for them or their operation. It is available on the NRCS web site at: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/new_csp and at NRCS field offices.

After self-screening, the producer's current and proposed conservation practices are entered in the conservation measurement tool (CMT). This tool estimates the level of environmental performance to be achieved by a producer implementing and maintaining conservation activity. The conservation performance estimated by the CMT will be used to rank applications.

NRCS field staff will also conduct on-site field verifications of applicants' information obtained from the CMT. Once the potential participant has been field verified and approved for funding, he or she must develop a conservation stewardship plan.

For information about CSP, including eligibility requirements, producers can visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/new_csp or visit their local NRCS field office.

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