By Bruce Knight
In our ongoing discussion of the next farm bill, I want us to consider carefully the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), which has become the largest USDA conservation program for private working lands.
Of immediate interest, of course, is the 2016 sign up, continuing through March 31. NRCS is making available $150 million through CSP this year, which is expected to bring an additional 10 million acres to the CSP rolls with a goal of improving soil and air quality, increasing water quality and enhancing wildlife habitats.
As we noted this past December, NRCS Chief Jason Weller intends to overhaul the program this summer and then announce changes in October for 2017. Again I would urge the Chief to further engage the agricultural community, particularly commercial agriculture, through listening sessions to ensure that producers have another opportunity to provide input on the program. I would expect this to be a topic at every NRCS state technical committee this spring and summer. We need to look closely at the enhancements under consideration to be sure they work well for sustainable intensification of production agriculture. Read the rest of the article here.