Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns today announced the funding of 4,404 Conservation Security Program (CSP) contracts across the United States, Puerto Rico and Guam.

"This year more producers enrolled in the Conservation Security Program, demonstrating that incentives work for voluntary conservation programs," said Johanns. "The conservation benefits derived from this program will help farmers and ranchers to improve their operations and increase the quality of our natural resources, benefiting all Americans."

The FY 2006 CSP contracts offered cover more than 3.7 million acres of private land in 60 watersheds nationwide, which translates to nearly a $440 million long-term investment in conservation over the next ten years. USDA expects to fully invest the $259 million provided by Congress for FY 2006. That amount covers prior CSP contracts and includes $50 million for FY 2006 contracts. USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service will begin notifying producers of the contracts today.

CSP is a voluntary conservation program that rewards private landowners for their ongoing stewardship of natural resources. CSP touches all agricultural production sectors from livestock operations to cropland and from orchards and vineyards to sugar bush and nursery crops. The 2006 contracts encourage them to further conserve and improve soil, water, air, energy, plant and animal life, and other conservation purposes on their operations, while, at the same time, creating incentives for other producers to meet those same standards of conservation performance.

More than 8,570 applications were received during the FY 2006 CSP sign-up. Environmental enhancement activities offered by applicants include improving soil quality, water quality, wildlife habitat management, nutrient and pest management, air quality management and on-farm energy management.

Payments will be made under three tiers of conservation contracts capped at $20,000, $35,000 and $45,000 annually. CSP contracts last for five years for Tier I contracts and 5-10 years for Tier II and Tier III contracts. Enrollment data for FY 2006 show that 99.6 percent of the applications approved include the complete agricultural operation, falling into the Tier III category for the most advanced conservationists. CSP will be available each year on a rotational basis in as many watersheds as funding allows.

NRCS financial and technical assistance promotes the conservation and improvement of soil, water, air, energy, plant and animal life, and other conservation purposes. The state-by-state breakdown is as follows:

See chart for breakdown of state funding levels (pdf):

Additional information on CSP, including the self-assessment workbook and Federal Register notice, is at

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