Delaware farmers are encouraged to sign up by May 10 for financial and technical assistance to take their voluntary conservation activities to a higher level.

Assistance is available through the updated Conservation Stewardship Program administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Through CSP, agricultural producers and forest landowners earn payments for actively managing, maintaining, and expanding conservation activities like cover crops, ecologically-based pest management, buffer strips and pollinator and beneficial insect habitat — all while maintaining active agriculture production on their land.

Through the adoption of technologies and new management techniques, Delaware farmers will address the state’s priority resource concerns. These include soil quality degradation, water quality degradation, insufficient water, degraded plant condition and air quality impacts. On-farm benefits include increased crop yields, decreased inputs, wildlife population improvements and better resilience to weather variables.

Delaware has 78 active CSP contracts on 67,000 acres of private lands.

“CSP continues to be a valuable tool in helping our farmers implement a higher level of conservation activity to achieve their management goals,” said Delaware State Conservationist Kasey L. Taylor.

The 2018 Farm Bill made several changes to this critical conservation program that will benefit Delaware farmers. Highlights include enrollment of eligible, high ranking applications based on dollars (not acres) to cover part of the cost for implementing new conservation activities and maintaining current practices; higher payment rates for certain conservation measures, including cover crops and resource conserving crop rotations; and specific support for organic operations and those transitioning to organic production.

Producers interested in CSP should contact their local USDA service center. In Delaware’s Sussex County, call 856-3990, ext. 3; in Kent County, call 741-2600, ext. 3; and in New Castle County, call 832-3100, ext. 3.

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