USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service announced Tuesday it is extending the deadline to apply for Conservation Stewardship funding from May 31 to June 14.
The CSP provides financial and technical assistance to farmers, ranchers and forestland owners to make enhancements that protect and improve soil quality and help land become more resilient to weather conditions.
Other improvements include implementing intensive rotational grazing, intercropping and wildlife friendly fencing. Assistance is geared to both the active management of existing conservation systems and to the implementation of new conservation activities on land in agricultural production.
"CSP is different than our other financial assistance programs," said NRCS Acting Chief Jason Weller. "It offers payments to producers who maintain a high level of conservation on their land and agree to adopt higher levels of stewardship. It's about conservation activities on the entire operation, focusing on multiple resource concerns."
Because of the extreme weather in 2012, more interest and participation in the cover crop enhancements is expected this year, according to NRCS.
Overall, the program will provide about $175 million in funding for up to 12.6 million additional acres enrollment this year. In the first four enrollment years for CSP (2009-2012), more than 39,000 farmers and ranchers have enrolled over 50 million acres of farm and ranch land, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition said.
Land that is now under five-year, renewable CSP conservation contracts is valued at $680 million a year, a figure that will increase once the additional 12 million acres is enrolled this year.
A CSP self-screening checklist is available to help producers determine if the program is suitable for their operation. The checklist highlights basic information about CSP eligibility requirements, stewardship threshold requirements and payment types.
For the checklist and additional information, visit the CSP website.