Delaware farmers and landowners are encouraged to sign up by June 5 for financial and technical assistance to expand existing conservation activities on their agricultural land.

Financial and technical assistance is now available through the updated Conservation Stewardship Program administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service.

“CSP is an effective tool in assisting farmers who continue to set the bar high for conservation,” said Kasey Taylor, NRCS state conservationist in Delaware. “It is designed to help these land stewards achieve their management goals on their agricultural operation.”

Through CSP, agricultural producers and forest landowners earn payments for actively managing, maintaining and expanding conservation activities like cover crops, ecologically based pest management, buffer strips, and pollinator and beneficial insect habitats, all while maintaining active agriculture production on their land.

CSP is for working lands including cropland, pastureland, nonindustrial private forest land and agricultural land under the jurisdiction of a tribe. Participating farmers will further address priority resource concerns related to soil quality, water quality, air quality and plant health. On-farm benefits include increased crop yields, decreased inputs, wildlife population improvements and better resilience to weather variables.

The 2018 Farm Bill made some improvements to the program that will benefit Delaware farmers, including higher payment rates for certain conservation activities, including cover crops and resource conserving crop rotations, and specific support for organic and for transitioning to organic production activities.

Applications are accepted throughout the year, but the deadline is June 5 for funding in fiscal 2020. NRCS will work with producers to complete and submit applications over the phone.

Producers interested in CSP should call their local USDA service center. In Delaware’s Sussex County, call 856-3990, ext. 3; in Kent County, call 741-2600, ext. 3; and in New Castle County, call 832-3100, ext. 3; or visit de.nrcs.usda.gov.