A guide to the new Conservation Stewardship Program has been published by the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC). The 17-page CSP guide offers clear explanations and farmer-friendly advice on how to access the program step by step. The Farmers’ Guide to the Conservation Stewardship Program will be a valuable tool in promoting the CSP, according to Ferd Hoefner, NSAC policy director.

“CSP is an extraordinary tool to financially reward high-level comprehensive conservation on working farms,” says Hoefner. “We want farmers and ranchers to understand the lingo and the Conservation Measurement Tool that will determine the extent of environmental benefits being produced and the payments being earned. This guide will help producers learn how they can earn rewards for excellent care of working lands.”

For 2009 only, the CSP signup is truncated into seven weeks. In 2010 and thereafter, the signup will be yearlong. The first step in the 2009 signup is for each farmer and rancher to submit a short application expressing his or her interest in enrolling. The deadline for that is Sept. 30. As of Sept. 18, some 6,000 farmers and ranchers have submitted applications to enroll over 6.3 million acres. A total of 12.8 million acres are available to be enrolled in 2009 and each year thereafter.

"With the application deadline for signaling interest approaching on Sept. 30, the information in the Farmers’ Guide should help producers with what they need to know to get started," says Hoefner. “The details of eligibility and future conservation plans can be spelled out later in the process, but farmers must understand enough about CSP to go to their NRCS offices and sign an application to get in on this first round.”