Conservation Stewardship Program
Through CSP, NRCS provides financial and technical assistance to eligible producers to conserve and enhance soil, water, air, and related natural resources on their land. Eligible lands include cropland, grassland, prairie land, improved pastureland, rangeland, nonindustrial private forest lands, agricultural land under the jurisdiction of an Indian tribe, and other private agricultural land (including cropped woodland, marshes, and agricultural land used for the production of livestock) on which resource concerns related to agricultural production could be addressed. Participation in the program is voluntary. CSP encourages land stewards to improve their conservation performance by installing and adopting additional activities, and improving, maintaining, and managing existing activities on agricultural land and nonindustrial private forest land. The NRCS will make CSP available nationwide on a continuous application basis.
General information about this opportunity
Last Known Status
Natural Resources Conservation Service, Department of Agriculture
Type(s) of Assistance Offered
B - Project Grants; Z - Salaries and Expenses
Title XII, subtitle D, chapter 4, subchapter B of the Food Security Act of 1985, 16 U.S.C. 3838d-3838g
Agriculture Act of 2018, Public Law 115-334
Who is eligible to apply/benefit from this assistance?
The program provides equitable access to all producers, regardless of operation size, crops produced, or geographic location. Individual producers, legal entities, corporations, and Indian Tribes may be eligible for the program. Eligible lands include cropland, grassland, prairie land, improved pastureland, rangeland, nonindustrial private forest land, and agricultural land under the jurisdiction of an Indian tribe. Applicants must have documented control of the land for the term of the proposed contract; include the eligible land in their entire operation as represented for other USDA programs; and be in compliance with the highly erodible land and wetland conservation provisions of 7 CFR Part 12, and adjusted gross income provisions of 7 CFR part 1400. The applicant's operation must also meet a stewardship threshold.
The program provides equitable access to all producers, regardless of operation size, crops produced, or geographic location. Individual producers, legal entities, corporations, and Indian Tribes may be eligible for the program. Eligible lands include cropland, grassland, prairie land, improved pastureland, rangeland, nonindustrial private forest land, and agricultural land under the jurisdiction of an Indian tribe. As stated in the Federal Register, 1470.6a, Applicants must be the operator of record in the USDA farm records management system for the eligible land being offered for enrollment; have documented control of the land for the term of the proposed contract; include the eligible land in their entire operation as represented for other USDA programs; and be in compliance with the highly erodible land and wetland conservation provisions of 7 CFR Part 12, and adjusted gross income provisions of 7 CFR part 1400. The applicants operation must also meet a stewardship threshold.
The participant must have control of the land offered for the length of the contract period. NRCS requires all program payments be made by direct deposit unless the participant requests a waiver as described in 31 CFR Part 208.4, paragraph (a).
What is the process for applying and being award this assistance?
Preapplication coordination is required. An environmental impact assessment is required for this listing.
This program is excluded from coverage under 2 CFR 200, Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards.
Once applicant and land eligibility are determined, the NRCS field office will assist the producer with completing the resource inventory to determine if the stewardship threshold requirement is met, rank applications, and establish payments. Applicants will be ranked relative to other applicants who face similar resource challenges in State-established ranking pools using ranking scores. Upon approval, the contract will obligate the participant to achieve a higher level of conservation performance by installing additional activities scheduled in their conservation stewardship plan and to maintain the level of existing conservation performance identified at the time of application.
Continuous enrollment. Periodic ranking cut-off dates posted on Agency website.
Approval/Disapproval Decision Time
From 60 to 90 days.
From 15 to 30 days. A participant may obtain administrative review in accordance with 7 CFR parts 11 and 614 for an adverse decision. Participants cannot appeal payment rates, payment limits, and cost-share percentages, eligible conservation practices, or other matters of general applicability. Before a participant can seek judicial review, the participant must exhaust all administrative appeal procedures.
At the end of an initial conservation stewardship contract, NRCS will allow a participant to renew the contract to receive payments for one additional five year period, subject to the availability of funds. To be considered for contract renewal, the participant must be in compliance with the terms of their initial contract as determined by NRCS; add any newly acquired eligible land that is part of the agricultural operation and meets minimum treatment criteria as established and determined by NRCS; meet stewardship thresholds for additional priority resource concerns as determined by NRCS; and agree to adopt conservation activities as determined by NRCS.
How are proposals selected?
All applications which meet the sign-up criteria will be placed in an enrollment category until field verification against records is made, upon which applications will be funded in priority order until the available funds are exhausted.
How may assistance be used?
CSP is available on Tribal and private agricultural lands, as well as nonindustrial private forest lands in all 50 States, the District of Columbia, and the Caribbean and Pacific Islands Areas. The entire operation must be enrolled and must include all eligible land that will be under the applicant's control for the term of the proposed contract that is operated substantially separate from other operations. Land enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program (7 CFR part 1410), a Wetlands Reserve Easement through the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program, and the Conservation Security Program (CFR part 1469) are ineligible for CSP. Eligibility is limited to ‘‘private’’ agricultural land; as such, land that is owned by a Federal, State, or local unit of government, with the exception of agricultural land under the jurisdiction of an Indian Tribe, is ineligible, regardless of the status of the operator. Additionally, a participant may not receive payment for land used for crop production after February 7, 2014, that had not been planted, considered to be planted, or devoted to crop production for at least four of the six years preceding that date, unless the land was: previously enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program; maintained using long-term rotations, such as hayland in rotation; or incidental to the operation but needed for the efficient management of the operation. An example of land considered ‘‘incidental to the operation’’ that may be eligible for payment is land that had once been used for buildings and is now being used for crop production to square up a cropland field.
What are the requirements after being awarded this opportunity?
Recipients are subject to audit by the Office of Inspector General, USDA.
As stipulated in SS1470.6 (a), the applicant must make available to NRCS upon request appropriate records documenting applied conservation activity and production system information. NRCS will request records when conducting field verification with pre-approved applicants.
Other Assistance Considerations
Formula and Matching Requirements
Statutory formula is not applicable to this assistance listing.
Matching requirements are not applicable to this assistance listing.
MOE requirements are not applicable to this assistance listing.
Length and Time Phasing of Assistance
NRCS will make payments as soon as practicable after October 1 of each fiscal year for activities carried out in the previous fiscal year. CSP payments to a person or legal entity may not exceed $200,000 for contracts entered into FY 2019 through FY 2023. Each CSP contract will be limited to $200,000 over the term of the initial contract period. The above limitations exclude funding arrangements with federally recognized Indian tribes or Alaska Native corporations. Annual payment. Method of awarding/releasing assistance: Lump.
Who do I contact about this opportunity?
Regional or Local Office
For more information on this and other related conservation programs, consult the local telephone directory where your land is located for the location of the nearest USDA service center. For a list of NRCS State offices with telephone numbers and addresses, information is available on the internet at http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/.
Jeffrey White, Branch Chief, Program Implementation Branch, Financial Assistance Programs Division
Natural Resources Conservation Service
1400 Independence Avenue SW; Room 5231-S
Washington, DC 20250 USA
(Cooperative Agreements) FY 18$949,353,000.00; FY 19 est $1,491,689,000.00; FY 20 est $1,340,515,000.00; FY 17$895,359,000.00; FY 16$891,786,000.00; - (Salaries and Expenses) FY 18$247,941,000.00; FY 19 est $380,193,000.00; FY 20 est $342,492,000.00; FY 17$239,175,000.00; FY 16$237,509,000.00; -
Range and Average of Financial Assistance
CSP payments to a person or legal entity may not exceed $200,000 for contracts entered into during FY 2019 through FY 2023. Each CSP contract is limited to $200,000 over the term of the initial contract period. The above limitations exclude funding arrangements with federally recognized Indian tribes or Alaska Native corporations as described in 7 CFR part 1470+.
Regulations, Guidelines and Literature
Congress authorized the enrollment of an additional 10,000,000 acres for each fiscal year (FY) for the period beginning February 7, 2014, and ending on September 30, 2022.
Examples of Funded Projects