USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service is informing landowners in middle Tennessee that they may be eligible for the Conservation Security Program. Farmers and other landowners living in the Red River and the Upper Duck River watersheds may apply for funding through NRCS.

The Red River watershed includes all or parts of Cheatham, Montgomery, Robertson, Stewart, and Sumner counties. Upper Duck River watershed counties are Bedford, Coffee, Franklin, Giles, Lincoln, Marshall, Maury, Moore, Rutherford, and Williamson.

CSP signup runs from April 18 through May 16, 2008.

CSP is a voluntary program that supports ongoing stewardship of private, agricultural working lands by rewarding the best conservation farmers.

“We want to reward our best agriculture conservation producers for practicing proven conservation techniques,” says Kevin Brown, state conservationist. “I strongly encourage anyone who is interested in CSP to make sure to attend a local informational meeting in their area.”

Public meetings to discuss the program with potential applicants are being planned.

Payments can include three components: (1) an annual stewardship component for the base level of conservation treatment, (2) an annual component for maintenance of existing conservation practices, and (3) an enhancement component for exceptional conservation effort. Enhancement activities could include limited pesticide applications, renewable energy generation, and widening existing riparian forest buffers for restoring critical stream habitat.

To apply for CSP, potential participants should complete a CSP self-assessment workbook — available at www.tn.nrcs.usda.gov/ or from local NRCS offices — to find out if their operations meet requirements of the program and qualify for program participation. The producers submit the CSP workbooks to local NRCS offices during the sign-up period and meet with NRCS personnel to go over any additional needed documentation.

NRCS will then determine if eligibility requirements are met and provide options for producers' decisions on enrollment category placement.

For more information about CSP eligibility and signup, go to www.tn.nrcs.usda.gov/ or contact a local district conservationist at the nearest USDA Service Center.