“What CSP has done for us, it has allowed us to explore better options and produce a better product. it gives you a little more financial freedom to do things, things that you dream up and say ‘Gees, I wish we could do this, but money wise you just can’t’. It’s given us more freedom in that aspect. It’s opened our eyes to more ideas.”
That’s Fanny Brewer talking about her family’s participation in the Conservation Stewardship Program. Fanny and her husband Jess, along with their children, run a 350-head cow/calf operation in South Dakota. She says that they learned about the program by visiting their local NRCS office. Staff there told them about the program and helped them fill out the paperwork to get started. The program helped them with information about forage quality and using rotational grazing to take better advantage of their native grass forages.
Get Paid For Your Great Work!
One of the great things about the program is that it pays you to do what you’re already doing. Chad Surrey says, “We saw all the things we were already doing that were involved and didn’t think it would take too much to qualify. If you’re a good producer and you’re a good steward of the land, you’re doing a lot of the practices anyway. It’s just a win-win situation.” The technical assistance he received helped him with cover crops to promote soil health and stretch feed for his cattle operation.
CSP helped Dave Steffen try something he’d never done before: prescribed burning. “Before that I never thought fire was a good deal – it’s a hazard. After I signed up for it…and implemented it…Controlled burning is simple and easy if you have a plan, and put it together and do it properly.” Three generations ago, his grandfather plowed up the grasslands for crops. It made marginal cropland, so his father began turning to back to grasslands and he’s continued that practice. He’s found that the change has moved his soil organic matter from 1-2% to 4-5% now.
There are all kinds of practices included as part of the program. Here’s a list that focuses on folks raising livestock. There are just as many practices for crop farmers. You don’t have to decide which practices you would like to do to apply by the May 10 deadline. You just need to submit your application. NRCS staff will get together with you later to listen to what your goals are and how they can help you meet them.
Is It Worth It?
You can hear Fanny, Chad, Dave and others talk about the benefit of the Conservation Stewardship Program in the 10 minute video below. But if you don’t have time for that, here’s how Fanny Brewer summarizes it for you:
“Yeah, do you have to do other things, other practices, and does it take time? Yes! But for the benefit you get back, it’s well worth it. It really benefits your whole operation, your land, the species of animals on your land, your cattle, your crops.
“It’s all designed to benefit YOU as a producer, so why you wouldn’t utilize it, I don’t have an idea why you wouldn’t do that.”
How to Apply
Here’s last week’s article describing how to apply. But if you don’t feel like reading, just call your local NRCS office, tell them that you’re interested in the Conservation Stewardship Program and you want to fill out an application.
And remember, you can apply for the program throughout the year, but to be considered for 2019 funding, the deadline is May 10. After that your application will be held until the next round in 2020.
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