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Temple, Texas, March 5, 2021 — The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Texas is now accepting applications through April 9, 2021, for Fiscal Year 2021 funding for the Conservation Stewardship Program.
NRCS plans to invest more than $8 million for new enrollments this year for Texas. The 2018 Farm Bill made several changes to this conservation program, which helps agricultural producers take the conservation activities on their farm or ranch to the next level.
“CSP continues to be a very effective tool for private landowners working to achieve their conservation and management goals,” said Kristy Oates, NRCS state conservationist for Texas. “It is the largest conservation program in the United States with more than 75 million acres of productive agricultural and forest land enrolled.”
While applications are accepted throughout the year, interested producers should submit applications to their local NRCS office by April 9, 2021, to ensure their applications are considered for 2021 funding.
The 2018 Farm Bill authorizes NRCS to accept new CSP enrollments from now until 2023, and it made some changes to the program. These updates include:
- NRCS now enrolls eligible, high-ranking applications based on dollars rather than acres. NRCS covers part of the cost for producers implementing new conservation activities and maintaining their existing activities.
- Higher payment rates are now available for certain conservation activities, including cover crops and resource conserving crop rotations.
- CSP now provides specific support for organic and for transitioning to organic production activities and a special grassland conservation initiative for certain producers who have maintained cropland base acres.
- New tools help producers better evaluate their conservation options, determine whether they are meeting stewardship thresholds, while also enabling them to see potential conservation payment scenarios early in the process.
The program provides many benefits including increased crop yields, decreased inputs, wildlife habitat improvements and increased resilience to weather extremes. CSP is for working lands including cropland, pastureland, rangeland, nonindustrial private forest land and agricultural land under the jurisdiction of a tribe.
While USDA offices are currently closed to visitors because of the pandemic, Service Center staff continue to work with agricultural producers via phone, email, and other digital tools. To conduct business, please contact your local USDA Service Center. Additionally, more information related to USDA’s response and relief for producers can be found at farmers.gov/coronavirus.
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