Conservation Program - CSP Facts


Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) for Cotton Producers

Updated: June 19, 2014


The Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) offers producers financial and technical assistance to maintain existing conservation activities and adopt additional ones on their operations. Additional activities are chosen from a list of enhancements that range from soil erosion and quality, water quality and quantity, air quality, as well as bundles that include several individual activities.

How it works:

CSP provides participants with two possible types of payments through five-year contracts: 1) Annual payments for installing new conservation activities and maintaining existing activities; and 2) supplemental payments for participants who adopt a resource-conserving crop rotation. CSP payments to any person or legal entity may not exceed $40,000 in a year and $200,000 during any five-year period for all contracts. Payments under a CSP contract with a joint operation may not exceed $80,000 in a year and $400,000 during the contract period. Producers may be able to renew a contract if they have successfully fulfilled the initial contract and agree to achieve additional conservation objectives. Payments are made soon as practical after October 1 of each fiscal year for contract activities installed and maintained in the previous year.

Applications are taken on a continuous basis, and producers may apply at any time. Periodically, the application period will be closed to rank and determine application acceptance for the year.The 2014 cut-off date for the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) ended February 07, 2014. Applications received after February 07, 2014 will be considered for the next ranking period. To be eligible for this period a producer must fill out the basic NRCS contract application prior to that date. For a pre-approved applicant, NRCS will request the applicant's conservation activity records and conduct on-site field verification to ensure that information provided by the applicant was accurate prior to contract approval. Once information is verified, NRCS and the applicant develop the contract together.

The State Conservationist, in consultation with the State Technical Committee and local working groups, ranks CSP applications on natural resources that are of specific concern for the state.


CSP is available on private agricultural lands, as well as nonindustrial private forest lands. The program provides equitable access to all producers, regardless of operation size, crops produced, or geographic location. Eligible lands include cropland, grassland, prairie land, improved pastureland, rangeland, nonindustrial private forest land.

Applicants may be individuals, legal entities or joint operations that meet the stewardship threshold for at least two priority resource concerns when they apply. They must also agree to meet or exceed the stewardship threshold for at least one additional priority resource concern by the end of the contract. Producers who sign up must have effective control of the land for the entire term of the proposed contract. Contracts include all eligible land in an agricultural operation.

Improving the odds:

Cotton producers interested in CSP are encouraged to complete a producer self-screening checklist. The checklist helps potential applicants decide whether CSP is the right program for them. The level of environmental benefit to be achieved will be estimated to determine eligibility, rank applications, and establish payments. A comprehensive conservation plan for the farm is not required prior to application, but it will greatly assist the producer in determining how best to proceed with an applications. Contracts are ranked according to state and local priorities. Check for these priorities on your NRCS state website.

To maximize payment eligibility some cotton producers may wish to add a resource conserving crop to their rotation. In other areas of the cotton belt, the producer may wish to focus on water conservation or quality strategies.