Farmers waiting for their Conservation Security or Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) payments should receive them in the coming days. The shutdown of the federal government delayed some of the $907 million in payments from USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to CSP participants who have enrolled millions of acres to improve the overall conservation performance of their operations.
"Farmers and ranchers are stewards of our natural resources, and their efforts show the value of conservation – working farms, ranches, and forests can provide food and fiber as well as clean water and valuable wildlife habitat," NRCS Chief Jason Weller said. "We're happy to have our staff back in the field where they can continue working with farmers and ranchers to put conservation practices on the ground."
The payments are part of a financial assistance program for producers who are already established conservation stewards and are implementing additional conservation activities for higher, farm-level benefits on their property. This work leads to cleaner water and air, healthier soil and enhanced wildlife habitat, while also supporting rural economies.
The Conservation Stewardship Program, now in its fifth year, replaced the former Conservation Security Program. To date, farmers, ranchers and forestland owners have enrolled about 60 million acres into the programs.
Funding for other Farm Bill programs expired Sept. 30, including the Conservation Reserve Program, Grassland Reserve Program, Wetland Reserve Program, Chesapeake Bay Watershed Initiative and Healthy Forests Reserve Program. NRCS is not accepting applications for these programs at this time.