2011 CSP Pays In Many Ways
Champaign, IL—More than 200 Illinois farm and forest land operators successfully enrolled in the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) during 2011. This is the second year the program has been open throughout Illinois. “The response from our producers tells me they have a strong conservation ethic and a long history of protecting valuable natural resources,” said Bill Gradle, State Conservationist for USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). “But with CSP, ag operators get more than a payment and a plan; they get a comprehensive review of their operation.”
For 2011, 204 CSP contracts were established on about 163,380 acres across the state. 189 contracts cover production ag land; 15 are on non-industrial private forest land. The average annual payment for Illinois’ CSP contract holders is $17,063 per contract—that’s more than $3.4 million in payments for farm families this year, and over $17.4 million over the course of participant’s five-year contract. For Illinois, total acres enrolled in CSP currently is 573,670 acres through 761 contracts. For the 2011 signup, Illinois payments averaged about $21 per acre. Payments are made annually for each of the contract’s five years.
Gradle recently attended the Indian Creek Watershed tour and was glad to see so many local producers involved in the project, “I can assure you that the federal dollars used to support conservation programs like CSP really do work. Our programs deliver proven, science-based ag improvements that help landowners care for their land and their soil.”
According to Gradle, when landowners sign up for NRCS programs, the contract includes a plan, a schedule, a payment, and a promise to maintenance all the practices. It also includes one more item: Access to NRCS trained technical specialists. NRCS employee knowledge and experience with soils, pest management, and water quality is included with the package. What they see on digital aerial maps, the issues they notice while walking over fields, and the details they learn about your operation all go into the inventory and analysis in addition to the final conservation plan which NRCS and producers develop together.
John Traub is a conservation producer from Fairbury, Illinois. He is one of
several Livingston County producers located in Indian Creek Watershed.
Agricultural owners and operators, NRCS, the local Soil and Water Conservation
District (SWCD) and other partners in the area have tapped into programs like
CSP and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) to monitor and
measure water quality improvements that result from targeting intense
conservation solutions in a finite area, like a small watershed. Traub is
involved with the project and recently participated in the tour to showcase
aspects of his operation. Two years ago Traub applied for CSP and is currently
working to complete his CSP contract.
“When you combine each farmer’s familiarity of their land with our science-based training for natural resource protection, and you put it all together, you get a true picture of what’s happening on your ground and how you can make it better,” Gradle explains.
Federal conservation programs offer attractive incentive payments and good technical information for building resource protection practices on the farm. “I’m in CSP for the next few years,” says Traub with a smile. “The contract is binding, yes. The payments are great. But the insight I gained into how my whole operation works and how I can fix it, that’s just priceless.”
The Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), authorized in the 2008 Farm Bill, is a voluntary program that offers payments to producers/operators who demonstrate excellence in land stewardship and who agree to do even more. CSP is available to all producers regardless of operation type, crops produced, or geographic location. For more detailed program criteria for the Conservation Stewardship Program, visit www.il.nrcs.usda.gov or contact the county NRCS office at the USDA Service Center.
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