2011 CSP first sign-up deadline nearing

Allison B. Hudson

According to NRCS District Conservationist Mandy York, now is the time for crop, livestock or forestland agriculture producers in Ascension, Assumption and St. James parishes to sign-up for the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP).

CSP is a new conservation program authorized under the 2008 Farm Bill. The deadline to apply for the first ranking period of FY2011 has been set for January 7, 2011, although applications will be accepted after that date for the second ranking period.

CSP is a voluntary program that encourages producers to maintain existing conservation activities and adopt additional activities on their operations. Most sugarcane producers who signed up in 2010 were able to maintain their existing level of management and adopt one new activity of their choice to be eligible for an annual payment per acre for five years. In 2010, most local producers who participated in the program will receive an annual payment between $12-$15/acre for five years. The payments are based on ranking points assigned after assessing the benchmark level of management on the agriculture operation and the selection of one or more activities to be adopted during the contract period. In 2011, the payments will be calculated in the same fashion, with the dollar amount expected to be similar. The payment limitation for CSP is $40,000 per year and $200,000 for five years for individuals, entities and members of entities.

The land entered into the program must be controlled by the operator for five years, and can be demonstrated by obtaining the landowners’ signature on a form letter or by having a written lease for the property. Owner/operators can show proof of control by deed. All land in the agriculture operation that control can be demonstrated on will be signed up for the program. The land where control cannot be obtained can be left out of the application.

For more information about CSP, including eligibility requirements, contact Mandy York, District Conservationist at the local USDA Service Center at 2274 Hwy 70, Suite C, Donaldsonville.

USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272 (voice), or (202) 720-6382(TDD).