The Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP)

The Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) provides payments to farmers for adopting or maintaining wide range of conservation management and land-based structural practices that address one or more resources of concern, such as soil, water, and wildlife habitat. The federal government will share in the cost for implementing new conservation practices and pay farmers for existing practices. This program was formerly known as the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP).


Land Use Cropland, Grazing land, Non-Industrial private forest land
Focus Reward payments, Cost-share payments
Resource Concern Soil erosion, Water quality, Air quality, Wildlife habitat
Purpose The environmental purpose of this program is to support ongoing stewardship of private agricultural lands and implementation of additional conservation practices that provide added environmental enhancement.
Landowner Benefits Landowners are rewarded with direct payments for installing and adopting additional conservation activities, improving, maintaining, and managing conservation activities already in place, and adoption of resource-conserving crop rotations. Cost-share is given based on installation and maintenance costs, improving/maintaining conservation activities already in place, and expected environmental benefits.
Description This program is largely a reward program where payments are delivered to landowners who have historically practiced good stewardship on their agricultural land. This program also rewards those who have gone beyond the minimum resource requirements for non-degradation and provides cost sharing for those wanting to do more. The Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) at a minimum must demonstrate that stewardship threshold is being met for at least one resource concern and agree to address at least one priority resource concern by the end of the stewardship contract. Offers are ranked by the level of existing conservation, level of proposed treatment, number of resource concerns addressed, extent that resource concerns are addressed and extent benefits are provided at the least cost.
Practices Existing and new stewardship practices and activities on all eligible land within the farm.
Costs to Landowner The percent of costs that the federal government will pay is determined on a case-by-case basis.
Eligibility Producers on cropland, orchards, vineyards, pastures, non-industrial private forest land and grazing land may apply for the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), regardless of size, type of operation or crops produced. Cropland must have been cropped in 4 of the 6 years prior to 2008 (except land in long-term rotation). Lands already enrolled inConservation Reserve Program (CRP), Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP), or Grasslands Reserve Program (GRP) are not eligible. Some landowners may not qualify if their adjusted gross income exceeds certain dollar figures. The extent of conservation needs in each state is taken into account.
Contract The contract length is 5 years and can be renewed for one additional 5-year period if producer demonstrates compliance with contract terms and agrees to adopt new conservation activities.
Other Notes Landowners who cash-rent their land are not eligible. The person who actually shares in the risk of the crop or livestock produced is eligible. Producers complete a self-assessment including description of conservation activities on their operations followed by an interview if considered eligible. Payments cannot be made for expenses associated with animal-waste storage or treatment facilities or related waste transport or transfer device for animal feeding operations.
Landowner Initiation