NRCS chief ‘stunned’ by large CSP sign-up

More than 40 percent of the acres signed up to be part of a popular conservation program won’t be accepted. The number of acres applied for exceeded what’s in the federal budget.

Sign-up for the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) that ended Friday is more than what was expected.

“We were stunned with the size of this,” said Dave White, Chief of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.

“We actually have had a record sign-up,” said White, during an interview with Brownfield Ag News. “Over 19 million acres have been offered for sign-up in the Conservation Stewardship Program. We’ll be able to take about 10.8 [million acres], so it’s going to be way over-subscribed, we’re going to have about eight or nine million more acres offered than we can take.”

The Conservation Stewardship Program pays land owners to improve their conservation performance by adopting additional conservation practices. Chief White says that contrary to those who fear that programs won’t see enough enrollment, the reasons for high sign-up numbers are clear.

“These conservation programs, because of the ethic of our ranchers and farmers and forestland owners, are continually over-subscribed,” said White.

Because many of the application were yet to be processed, White said the final number of applications was likely to be higher than the 19 million initially reported.

“It was an extraordinary response to this conservation program.”

AUDIO: NRCS Chief Dave White (3 min. MP3)

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