CSP and CRP Program Sign-up: Please contact your local NRCS office ASAP to sign up for the CSP and/or CRP programs, if you have not already done so. Deadlines for these programs vary, but they can offer your farm from $50,000 to $80,000/year for being good stewards of the environment (always a good concept if your farm is to be passed down to the next generation). Conservation Stewardship Program also known as CSP is a valuable program that offers rental or incentive payments for good practices, such as cover crops to reduce erosion. CRP is the Conservation Reserve Program, which is similar, but more related to environmentally sensitive land, such as land around waterways. CRP also has payments for pollinator programs that may be beneficial for your bottom line as well as for the environment.
NRCS also offers funding for assessing the energy efficiency of your farm. Since the beginning of the year is time for many of us to take an inventory of what we need to do to reach our goals, NRCS funds could help with this inventory. You may ask them to approve a Technical Service Provider for your farm, such as Bruce Everly from EIM, do an on-farm assessment to document how your farm operates related to energy, land and water “practices” (as the NRCS calls them.)
For energy usage, the result of the USDA funded assessment (known as “Practice 128”) will normally identify ways to reduce your diesel, propane or electric bills. When good ideas were documented last year, over 90% of the time the USDA provided up to $50,000 to help study and rectify problems. Typical projects funded are new grain driers, conversion of diesel to electric motors for irrigation systems, upgrades to work shops or animal housing, but options vary state to state.
For water usage, the USDA will fund a survey (known as Practice 118) to study how your existing irrigation system works and how a future irrigation system might help. Projects that typically receive funding are for building ponds, establishment of wells and running pipe. Standards are tough but funding levels often exceed 75% of the project’s costs.
Ask about soil conservation practices, which will provide funding for the increased usage of cover crops, strip tilling, and good crop rotation practices. Many of you are already doing sound conservation practices, but might be able to expand the acreage you are implementing it on with a good study.
Please call or stop in at your local NRCS office today to say you wish to apply for a Planning Practice (118 or 128) and ask what programs they feel might be most beneficial to your operation. Let’s start 2016 off right by starting a long term plan on how to obtain subsides for activities you see as beneficial to the bottom line of your operation.