USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is extending the deadline for Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) applications until Friday, March 13, 2015 providing farmers and private forest managers two additional weeks to apply for this funding round of $100 million nationwide. CSP is designed for producers willing to adopt additional conservation activities aimed at helping them achieve higher levels of conservation on their farms and forests.

“CSP producers are established conservation leaders who work hard at enhancing natural resources on private lands,” said Jason Weller, NRCS Chief. “By extending the deadline for general sign-up applications, we are ensuring that landowners will be able to take advantage of a program that will enroll up to 7.7 million acres this year.”

USDA’s largest conservation program by acreage, CSP pays participants for conservation performance — the better the performance, the higher the payment. Nearly 70 million acres have been enrolled in the program since its launch in 2009.

Although CSP applications are accepted all year, farmers, and forest landowners should submit applications by the funding deadline, extended to Friday, March 13, to ensure they are considered for this year’s funding. Applications should be submitted to local NRCS offices, and as part of the CSP application process, applicants will work with NRCS field personnel to complete a resource inventory of their land, which will help determine the conservation performance for existing and new conservation activities. The applicant’s conservation performance will be used to determine eligibility, ranking and payments.

USDA offers financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers or forest landowners for the active management and maintenance of existing conservation activities and for carrying out new conservation activities on working agricultural land. Eligible lands include cropland, grassland, improved pastureland, non-industrial private forestland and tribal agricultural land. Applicants must have control of the land for the 5-year term of the contract.

To learn more about CSP contract renewals, contact your local NRCS office. In Delaware’s Sussex County, call 302-856-3990, ext. 3; in Kent County, call 302-741-2600, ext. 3; and in New Castle County, call 302-832-3100, ext. 3. Or visit the Conservation Stewardship Program page for more information.