LYONS — For Nebraska farmers and ranchers, the deadline to submit initial paperwork for the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) or the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) is Friday, Nov. 19.

Administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), CSP and EQIP provide financial and technical assistance for producers to address natural resource concerns on their operations. Known as working lands conservation programs, CSP and EQIP allow farmers and ranchers to implement conservation practices while maintaining agricultural production.

“These programs provide a unique opportunity for farmers and ranchers who want to be good land stewards and continue to turn out a crop each year,” said Kalee Olson, policy associate for the Center for Rural Affairs.

CSP is designed to enhance existing conservation efforts. To be eligible, producers must demonstrate they are addressing regional resource concerns with approved conservation practices.

In addition, they must be willing to implement additional practices, such as cover crops, rotational grazing and conservation crop rotation.  

EQIP is designed to help producers address a particular resource concern, such as erosion or water quality, with a single practice or project. Many practices available in EQIP are also available in CSP. However, it is unique in offering a number of structural practices to choose from as well.

“Conservation is for all producers, and these programs provide different points of entry depending on your experience,” Olson said. “Whether you’re a beginning farmer or a seasoned producer, CSP and EQIP can help you become a better steward of our natural resources.”

In 2020, more than 1,000 contracts advanced conservation across Nebraska, with 883 EQIP and 128 CSP contracts statewide.

Farmers and ranchers interested in applying are encouraged to contact their local NRCS office as soon as possible to set up an appointment. A list of local offices may be found at offices.sc.egov.usda.gov.

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