USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) announced that the ranking period cut-off date for the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) is Jan. 13, 2012. Producers interested in CSP should submit applications to their local NRCS office by the deadline so that their applications can be considered during the first ranking period of 2012.

CSP is offered in all 50 states, through continuous sign-ups. The program provides conservation benefits including improvement of water and soil quality, wildlife habitat enhancements and adoption of conservation activities that address the effects of climate change. Eligible lands include cropland, pastureland, rangeland, non-industrial private forest land and agricultural land under the jurisdiction of an Indian tribe.

A CSP self-screening checklist is available to help potential applicants determine if CSP is suitable for their operation. The checklist highlights basic information about CSP eligibility requirements, contract obligations and potential payments. It is available from local NRCS offices and on the CSP website at www.or.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/csp/.

As part of the CSP application process, applicants will work with NRCS field personnel to complete the resource inventory using a Conservation Measurement Tool (CMT). The CMT determines the conservation performance for existing and new conservation activities. The applicant’s conservation performance will be used to determine eligibility, ranking and payments.

Additional information on CSP can be found on the NCC's home page, www.cotton.org, by clicking on the Conservation icon. Producers interested in signing up during this ranking period should contact their local NRCS office.