FAQ: Changes are being proposed for rules governing USDA's Conservation Stewardship Program. Deadline to comment has been extended to January 20. What are the proposed changes?
Answer: As USDA's implementation of the 2014 Farm Bill continues, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack has announced proposed changes to the Conservation Stewardship Program. The CSP is one of USDA's largest conservation programs for working ag lands.
"Farmers, ranchers and non-industrial forestland owners enrolled in the Conservation Stewardship Program are our nation's conservation leaders," he says. "They go the extra mile to conserve our natural resources. This program continues to enable owners and managers of private lands to reach the next level of conservation."
The rule also establishes the role of CSP as one of the programs to help the Regional Conservation Partnership Program accomplish its purposes. Vilsack says participants will be delivering more conservation benefits than ever under the revised program rules.
USDA seeking public comment on the interim rule
USDA has published an interim final rule containing the statutory changes to CSP in the Federal Register. USDA is seeking public comment on the rule through Jan. 20, 2015. The public comments will be used to finalize the interim final rule.
The CSP interim final rule can be viewed at nrcs.usda.gov and the Federal Register. After gathering and analyzing the comments USDA will publish a final rule, which will establish the program's policy for the life of the 2014 Farm Bill.
USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service administers the CSP, which pays participants for conservation performance: the better the performance, the higher the payment. In CSP, producers install conservation enhancements to make positive changes in soil, water and air quality; water quantity; plant and animal resources; and energy conservation. More than 64 million acres have been enrolled in the program since CSP was launched in 2009.
NRCS is working to streamline CSP administration
Vilsack says NRCS is working to simplify the administrative complexity of CSP by streamlining the regulations. For more on technical and financial assistance available through conservation programs, visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/GetStarted or a local USDA service center.