The United States Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service is launching the 2006 Conservation Security Program (CSP). Sign-ups will be held Feb. 13 to March 31, 2006, in the North Shore watershed on Oahu.

To be eligible for CSP, most of a producer’s agricultural operation must fall within the boundaries of the selected watershed.

Applications that meet CSP’s minimum requirements as set forth in the amendment to the Interim Final Rule published in the Federal Register March 25, 2005, will be placed in enrollment categories. Categories will be funded in alphabetical order until funds are exhausted. The CSP amendment to the Interim Final Rule is available for viewing at: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/csp/.

North Shore producers can begin the application process by filling out a self-assessment to determine if they meet the basic qualifications for CSP.

Self-assessment workbooks are available in hard copy at USDA Service Center in Aiea and electronically at http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/csp/.

After completing the self-assessment, producers should schedule an appointment to discuss their application with the NRCS staff in Aiea to determine if they meet specific CSP eligibility requirements. Informational meetings on this program will be scheduled in North Shore, Oahu soon.

USDA announced preliminary selection of the watersheds for fiscal year 2006 based on the President’s budget request. Based on available funding, CSP will be offered in 60 watersheds across all 50 states, the Caribbean and Guam. The sign-up will only include those producers who do not have an existing CSP contract.

2006 marks the third CSP sign-up. The privately-owned land currently enrolled in CSP covers nearly 11 million acres in 220 eligible watersheds in all 50 states and the Caribbean Area.

CSP is a voluntary conservation program that supports ongoing stewardship of private agricultural lands by providing payments for maintaining and enhancing natural resources. Payments are made using three tiers of conservation contracts. CSP will be available any year on a rotational basis in as many watersheds as funding allows. Additional information about CSP is available from your local USDA Service Center or at http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/csp. USDA is an equal opportunity employer and provider.

”’Reach the USDA’s Sheila Cox at (808) 483-8600 ext. 101 in Aiea or Jan Surface at (808) 541-2600 ext. 153 in Honolulu for more information.”’

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