A final rule has been made for the Conservation Stewardship Program

New updates have been made to the ag department’s stewardship program. Compared to the interim rule, this new final version places a greater emphasis on soil health.

The Natural Resources Conservation Service says that it also better aligns the Conservation Stewardship Program with the Quality Incentives Program, through planning and common applications.

“This is a streamline process so that they are all evaluated in a very common flow and if CSP is the best place for them, we take them that way, if it’s EQIP, they can go without having to come in and file a completely different application,” NRCS’s Kevin Norton said.

The public comment period is now open for the finale rule. To sign up for CSP, just go to your local NRCS office.

The National Farmers Union called the inclusion of soil in the finale rule a good step, but the process is murky.

“Moving forward, we encourage the agency to provide more specifics about the ways in which the program will help farmers build soil health in order to sequester atmospheric carbon, increase yields and prevent erosion,” NFU President Robert Lawler said.

The NFU says that it is still concerned the program gives preference to first-time applicants over previous recipients and disproportionately helps the largest farms.