Input needed on Conservation Stewardship Program farm bill updates

Kate Hansen contributed to this blog

Click here to learn more about how to make a comment.

On Nov. 12, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced changes to the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), the nation’s largest conservation program. A public comment period is now underway, and we encourage you to submit a comment on the changes, especially if you have held or applied for a CSP contract.

The comment period is an extremely important time for farmers’ and ranchers' voices to be heard, as USDA is required to read and address each comment they receive.

Because CSP is the nation’s largest conservation program—with 79.3 million acres enrolled and available in all 50 states and the Pacific and Caribbean areas—the changes will have a widespread impact. In 2020, the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service is expected to make $750 million available for CSP enrollment.

The Center for Rural Affairs is a strong supporter for CSP because it offers farmers and ranchers a valuable opportunity to build on and increase conservation on their operations.

We’re in good company, too. In 2017, the Center surveyed hundreds of Midwestern farmers and ranchers about their experiences with CSP and found overwhelming support for the program.

The recent changes to CSP were announced by way of an interim final rule, in response to the changes in the farm bill, which happens about once every five years. Rules act as USDA’s blueprint for how the programs will operate under the new farm bill, and the changes set forth can affect farmers’ and ranchers’ experiences with these programs on the ground.

If you are interested in submitting a comment, we can help. Check out our guide for submitting a CSP comment here. The guide includes a template that you can use to begin drafting your comment. If you would like more details about the changes made in the rule, see our click here

We want to support you in the process, so please reach out via email to annaj@cfra.org or kateh@cfra.org or by call us at 515-215-1294 if you would like more information, or ideas for where to begin.