USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) California State Office announced that the ranking period cut-off date for producer applications for the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) has been extended to Jan. 7, 2011.

CSP is offered through continuous sign-ups with announced cut-off dates for ranking periods. The program provides numerous conservation benefits including improvement of water and soil quality, wildlife habitat enhancement and adoption of conservation activities that address the effects of climate change.

All producers and tribal entities are encouraged to apply for CSP. The program, authorized in the 2008 farm bill, offers payments to producers who maintain a high level of conservation on their land and who agree to adopt higher levels of stewardship. Eligible lands include cropland, pastureland, rangeland and non-industrial private forestland.

A CSP self-screening checklist is available to help producers 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 or online at http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/new_csp/csp.html.

Since 1935, NRCS has provided conservation-related products and services that enable people to be good stewards of the nation's soil, water, and related natural resources on non-federal lands. With our help, people are better able to conserve, maintain, or improve their natural resources. As a result of our technical and financial assistance, land managers and communities take a comprehensive approach to the use and protection of natural resources in rural, suburban, urban, and developing areas.