NEVADA, Neb. — A historically high amount of funding is available for Iowa farmers as part of the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP). Producers have until June 15 to submit applications, and they stand a strong chance of being accepted.
“If you have ever been interested in applying, or reapplying, for CSP, now is absolutely the time,” said Kate Hansen, senior policy associate with the Center for Rural Affairs. “In the first round of applications for these funds, every eligible applicant was funded. Millions of dollars still need to be put to good use.”
Administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), CSP provides financial and technical assistance for producers interested in addressing natural resource concerns on their operations while maintaining agricultural production.
Nearly $5 million in additional funds for CSP in Iowa have been made available through the Inflation Reduction Act. The funding is available for practices designated by NRCS as climate-smart activities — focused on soil health, nutrient stewardship, grazing, and pasture lands. Eligible practices include cover crops, no-till, field borders, prescribed grazing, and nutrient management.
The process will remain largely the same for producers, though a new system means eligible applications can be immediately evaluated, approved, and obligated.
“USDA’s working lands programs, including CSP, have been historically underfunded and oversubscribed, with the number of eligible applications exceeding available funding,” Hansen said. “The additional funding will allow more producers to enroll.”
June 15 is also the deadline for organic producers to apply to the Organic Transition Initiative through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program. The program supports activities and practices required for organic certification, such as cover crops, field borders, and conservation crop rotation.
Producers interested in applying to either program are encouraged to contact their local NRCS office as soon as possible. To find your local office, visit nrcs.usda.gov/contact/find-a-service-center.
— Center for Rural Affairs