Blog for Rural America

The Center for Rural Affairs, a private, non-profit organization, is working to strengthen small businesses, family farms and ranches, and rural communities. Permission to reprint items from this web log is hereby granted, on the condition that clear credit is given to the original source of the material. If the blog provides information for a story, please let us know by sending an email to johnc@cfra.org.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Conservation Security Program Sign Up In March

Conservation Security Program Sign Up Underway through March
Eligible watersheds were scaled back to 60, not the 110 originally promised;
Center’s Conservation Hotline available for questions

by Traci Bruckner, tracib@cfra.org

The 2006 Conservation Security Program (CSP) sign up is underway. It began February 13 and continues through March 31, 2006. CSP was originally supposed to be available in 110 watersheds across the country this year, but it was scaled back to only 60 watersheds. The Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) claims the scale back was necessary due to limited funding availability.

Nonetheless, this scaling back has undoubtedly led to confusion and disappointment for those in watersheds that have been cut. Farmers and ranchers were told the watershed approach would allow them to put in place what they needed so as to be ready when CSP came to their area. For those who listened to such advice – and happen to be in the areas that were cut – they will have to continue to wait.

Moreover, sustainable farmers and ranchers who do not fall into qualified areas and who have had their conservation systems in place for years – the ones this program was designed to serve – will now be waiting longer too. In fact, they could be waiting a long time unless the watershed numbers begin to increase instead of decrease.

If the current watershed rate is extended to future sign ups, CSP would go from an 8-year rotation to roughly a 37-year rotation. That is simply unacceptable.

We will again be hosting our Conservation Hotline to assist farmers and ranchers with the CSP during this sign up – call 402.687.2100. There are always a few changes from one sign up to the next, so we encourage those needing assistance to contact our hotline.

We also would like to learn about your experience with CSP. With each sign up we compile the lessons we learn from farmers and ranchers who go through the process, including those who were told they don’t qualify, and we work to improve program implementation.

Lessons from previous sign ups indicate that NRCS needs to improve the program by giving more emphasis to sustainable farming systems. An even more urgent need is for the White House and Congress to stop reducing the size and scope of the program so it can benefit the farmers and ranchers who deserve to participate.

To view the watersheds for the 2006 sign up and for more information on the CSP, go to the following NRCS webpage: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/csp/

post a question or comment here or contact John Crabtree, johnc@cfra.org

Center for Rural Affairs
Values. Worth. Action.

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