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Public comment period for Conservation Stewardship Program extended

Comments being accepted until January 20th instead of January 5th

By Diego Flammini,

The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is giving the public more time to comment on the Conservation Stewardship Program’s (CSP) interim rule.

Originally scheduled to end on January 5th, people concerned with the proposed changes will have 15 extra days to voice their opinions with the comment period being stretched to January 20th.

“This extension will provide stakeholders with additional time to comment on the CSP interim rule,” NRCS Chief Jason Weller said. “At nearly 70 million acres, CSP is the nation’s largest conservation program.  Input through the public comment process will help NRCS finalize a CSP rule that works for participants and continues to deliver greater conservation benefits for our Nation.”

As part of the CSP Interim Rule, there are two types of changes being proposed:

These changes include authorizing veteran preference, allowing enrollment of lands in their last year of the Conservation Reserve Program, and requiring determination of at least five priority resource concerns for each area or watershed.

Programmatic changes include prioritizing veterans meeting the requirements as a beginning or disadvantaged farmer or rancher and allowing the scheduling of practices any time during the contract.

The CSP is an agricultural initiative aimed at helping producers sustain and improve their current conservation practices and help engage in new practices. Agriculture professionals involved in the CSP earn payments for their conservation based on a simple formula:

The better they conserve, the more they’ll earn. Participants cannot earn more than $200,000 between the fiscal years 2014 and 2018.

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