Your Input is Needed on the Conservation Program Survey

CCOF is continuing to search for feedback from farmers who have experience with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP).

If you have experience with CSP or are interested in the program, please take a few minutes to complete the following survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CSP_Survey_Feedback.

This is a busy time of year, and we greatly appreciate any feedback. The results of this survey will help make CSP more accessible to farmers.

What is the Conservation Stewardship Program? 

CSP is a national conservation program administered by the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). CSP pays farmers to maintain, improve, or add to the conservation practices that they already implement on their farm. For example, farmers may receive payments for cover cropping, no-till, rotational grazing, composting, precision irrigation application, and integrated pest management. Any farmer with cropland, pasture, rangeland, and/or forestland who implements conservation practices may apply. 

For more information on the CSP sign-up process and for the complete list of practices that are covered in the program, click here.

Why is CCOF interested in CSP?

CCOF is investigating CSP because California has low enrollment in the program compared to other large agricultural states. This is concerning, especially because California has a large number of organic farmers who implement practices that qualify for CSP payments. Moreover, CSP payments could help producers who are interested in transitioning to organic or new and beginning farmers seeking capital to implement additional conservation practices.

Enrollment in CSP may be low in California due to the requirement for a five year CSP contract, how the NRCS weighs certain conservation practices in its payment calculation (the NRCS weighs additional practices more heavily than existing practices), a time-consuming application process, or the payment rates themselves.

To address low enrollment of California organic producers in CSP, CCOF is interested in hearing from farmers about their experiences. These testimonials will assist CCOF in drafting a set of recommendations that will be sent to the NRCS with the ultimate goal of improving CSP so that it can become more accessible to farmers.

If you have any other comments or concerns related to CSP please contact Eric Cissna at ecissna@ccof.org or (831) 423-2263.

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This article was written by Eric Cissna.

Eric is a UC Santa Cruz junior in the field of environmental studies. He is interested in natural resource management, water and watershed management, environmental policy, renewable energy, and organic farming. Eric has worked with the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Santa Cruz County and assisted the NRCS district conservationist in conservation field visits with farmers. He is currently working as the policy intern at CCOF and is researching NRCS programs.

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