The USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has announced the ranking period cut-off date for the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) is Nov. 16. Arkansas producers interested in CSP should submit applications to their local NRCS office by the deadline so their applications can be considered during the first ranking period of 2013.

“CSP is beneficial to environmental sustainability in Arkansas.  Many Arkansas farmers are currently participating in the program,” said Arkansas State Conservationist Mike Sullivan. “It is our hope that we can gain the interest of more producers willing to improve their conservation performance.”

CSP provides many conservation benefits that enhance soil, water, air, wildlife habitat, and related natural resources on the land. Eligible lands include cropland, pastureland, non-industrial private forest land and agricultural land under the jurisdiction of an Indian tribe.

A CSP self-screening checklist and additional information is available to help potential applicants determine if CSP is suitable for their operation. Access here.

The checklist highlights basic information about CSP eligibility requirements, contract obligations and potential payments.

As part of the CSP application process, applicants will work with NRCS field personnel to complete the resource inventory of their operation using a Conservation Measurement Tool (CMT).The CMT determines the conservation performance for existing and new conservation activities.The applicant’s conservation performance will be used to determine eligibility, ranking and payments.

All applications competing in the 2013 ranking period must be eligible, evaluated and ranked in the CMT by Feb. 15, 2013.Funding selections of eligible applications will be completed by Feb. 22, 2013, and obligations must be finalized no later than May 3, 2013.Applications not received by Nov. 16, 2012, will not be considered for the Feb. 15, 2013, ranking period.

To sign up for CSP, visit your local USDA field service center. To locate the local office, see here.