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Contact: Carter Harris, Public Affairs

USDA to Invest $150 Million through Conservation Stewardship Programto Help Improve Working Lands

USDA Offers Renewal Options for Producers with Expiring Contracts

Nashville TN, Feb. 4, 2016 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that $150 million in funding is available for agricultural producers through the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), USDA’s largest conservation program that helps producers voluntarily improve the health and productivity of private and Tribal working lands. USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) plans to add an estimated 10 million acres to the rolls of CSP during fiscal 2016.

  “The Conservation Stewardship Program is one of our most popular programs with producers because it results in real change on the ground by boosting soil and air quality, conserving clean water and enhancing wildlife habitat,” Vilsack said. “With this investment, we’ll be able to build on the already record number of acres enrolled in USDA’s conservation programs, enabling producers to achieve higher levels of conservation and adopt new and emerging conservation technologies on farms, ranches and forests.”

NRCS accepts applications for CSP throughout the year, but producers should submit applications by March 31 to USDA service centers to ensure they are considered for enrollment in 2016. 

Participants with existing CSP contracts that will expire on Dec.31, 2016 have the option to renew their contracts for an additional five years if they agree to adopt additional activities to achieve higher levels of conservation on their lands. Applications to renew are also due by March 31.

“CSP is a way of providing an incentive to farmers, and private forest managers who maintain a high level of conservation on their land and agree to adopt higher levels of stewardship,” said Kevin Brown, Tennessee State Conservationist, of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. “By focusing on multiple resource concerns, landowners are able to achieve a sustainable landscape and maintain or increase the productivity of their operations.”

Funding is available for more than 100 kinds of enhancements nationwide to help participants:

  • Improve soil quality through use of cover crops, conservation crop rotations and other activities that increase soil health and productivity.
  • Use water wisely and improve water quality through enhancements such as more efficient irrigation systems and weather monitoring.
  • Forest Stand Improvement for soil health and water quality
  • Restore habitat for wildlife and pollinators such as the and monarch butterfly through the use of better grazing systems and improved plant management.

    A CSP self-screening checklist is available to help producers determine if the program is compatible with their operation. As part of the application process, applicants will work with NRCS field personnel to complete a resource inventory of their land to determine the conservation performance for existing and new conservation activities. The applicant’s conservation performance will be used to determine eligibility, ranking and payments. 

    Through CSP, USDA has provided more than $4 billion since 2009 in assistance to farmers, ranchers and forest managers to enhance conservation on more than 70 million acres. For more on technical and financial assistance available through conservation programs, visit

    Since 2009, USDA has invested more than $29 billion to help producers make conservation improvements, working with as many as 500,000 farmers, ranchers and landowners to protect over 400 million acres nationwide, boosting soil and air quality, cleaning and conserving water and enhancing wildlife habitat. For an interactive look at USDA’s work in conservation and forestry over the course of this Administration, visit

In accordance with Federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its Agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, gender identity (including gender expression), sexual orientation, disability, age, marital status, family/parental status, income derived from a public assistance program, political beliefs, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity, in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA (not all bases apply to all programs). Remedies and complaint filing deadlines vary by program or incident.  

Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g., Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.) should contact the responsible Agency or USDA’s TARGET Center at (202) 720-2600 (voice and TTY) or contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339. Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English.

To file a program discrimination complaint, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, AD-3027, found online at at any USDA office or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by:

  1. mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture
    Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights
    1400 Independence Avenue, SW
    Washington, D.C. 20250-9410;
  2. fax: (202) 690-7442; or
  3. email:

USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits discrimination in all its programs and activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, and where applicable, sex, marital status, familial status, parental status, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, political beliefs, reprisal, or because all or a part of an individual's income is derived from any public assistance program. (Not all prohibited bases apply to all programs.) Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication of program information (Braille, large print, audiotape, etc.) should contact USDA's TARGET Center at (202) 720-2600 (voice and TDD). To file a complaint of discrimination write to USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272 (voice) or (202) 720-6382 (TDD). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

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