New Conservation Program Merits A Closer Look

No-tillers more likely to earn contracts that provide funding to improve their no-till system

CONGRATULATIONS! Your conservation efforts have been noticed. Please move directly to “Go” and collect your reward.

While it’s not quite as easy as the board game Monopoly, no-tillers do have a great opportunity to be rewarded for past and future conservation efforts with the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP).

Not to be confused with the Conservation Security Program from the 2002 farm bill, this new 2008 farm bill program is teeming with possibilities for no-tillers.

“The new CSP is an acre-based program not limited by watersheds and constrained by budget like the Conservation Security Program was,” says Craig Derickson, NRCS Deputy Chief for Financial Assistance and Community Development. “It’s available in every county nationwide. Producers in every watershed will be able to apply.”

Congress authorized that 12.7 million acres per year can be enrolled in 5-year CSP contracts, making it much more widely available.

“The Conservation Reserve Program topped out at about 36 million acres in the last farm bill,” says Paul Flynn, Minnesota state NRCS resource conservationist. “CSP could eclipse that in 3 years and will very soon become the largest conservation program the USDA has ever rolled out.”

Goals and strategies are significantly different, too.

“CSP is designed to both recognize people who are historical stewards, as well as place additional value on the future improvements they’re willing to make,” Derickson explains.

Points are allotted to conservation practices and their impacts on different resources, such as water, soil and air quality.

No-tillers get points for current conservation practices and…

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