The U.S. Department of Agriculture is accepting applications from agricultural producers and forest landowners from West Virginia for the Conservation Stewardship Program. Agricultural producers and forest landowners looking to build on conservation efforts while strengthening their operation can apply for technical and financial assistance through CSP.
While USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service accepts CSP applications year-round, West Virginia producers and landowners should apply by March 31 to be considered for funding in the current cycle.
State technical committees, composed of conservation and agricultural-related agency and organization representatives, work with NRCS to identify resource priorities and how best to address them. NRCS then sets state-specific, ranking dates to evaluate applications for funding that account for producer needs, staff workload and ensure potential participants have ample opportunities to apply. Find West Virginia’s ranking dates for CSP and other conservation programs at www.nrcs.usda.gov/staterankingdates.
The program provides many benefits, including increased crop yields, decreased inputs, wildlife habitat improvements and increased resilience to adverse weather. CSP is for working lands, including cropland, pastureland, rangeland, nonindustrial private forest land and agricultural land under Indian tribe jurisdiction.
Additionally, existing CSP participants may have an opportunity to renew their contracts in the first half of the fifth year of their five-year contract through a competitive application process.
Special provisions are available for historically underserved producers, which include those considered beginning, socially disadvantaged and limited resource as well as military veterans. These producers are targeted funds.
Payment rates for conservation practices are reviewed and set each fiscal year for the state.
To apply for CSP, contact NRCS at one’s local USDA Service Center. Local service centers can be found at www.farmers.gov/service-locator.
Service center staff continue to work with agricultural producers via phone, email and other digital tools. Because of the pandemic, some USDA Service Centers are open to limited visitors. Contact a service center to set up an in-person or phone appointment. On farmers.gov, a person can create a secure account, apply for NRCS programs, electronically sign documents and manage your conservation contracts. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov.
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