National hotline unveiled for the Conservation Security Program
A new service for innovative farmers and ranchers will help stimulate good environmental stewardship

LYONS, Nebraska, June 14, 2004: The Center for Rural Affairs has opened a “Hotline” to connect farmers and ranchers practicing effective conservation to the Conservation Security Program (CSP) created by the 2002 Farm Bill. The Hotline’s number is 402-687-2100 and will be open once the CSP sign-up begins.

The Conservation Security Program (CSP) is a 2002 Farm Bill initiative written by Congress to provide financial assistance to farmers and ranchers who are solving key natural resource and environmental problems by adopting sustainable practices and systems. The CSP was designed by Congress to provide support to farmers and ranchers who are already engaged in strong conservation systems to protect soil, water, air, and wildlife or who will adopt more sustainable systems as part of the program. Traci Bruckner, policy analyst and Hotline director for the Center, said, “This program is the most promising conservation proposal in the Farm Bill. It was designed by Congress to reward the best conservation farmers and ranchers.”

However, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is intending to implement the program with some very severe geographic restrictions by limiting it to only 18 watersheds across the country for this first sign-up and expanding slowly to other watersheds on a rotational basis. Add the weak and complicated payment methods they have proposed, and you have a much weaker program than Congress intended.

The hotline is timed to coincide with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s release of the interim final rule and the subsequent sign-up announcement for the CSP. Sign-up will run from July 6th to July 30th. Bruckner views USDA’s very short sign-up timeframe as a step in the wrong direction. “The administration’s plan to run a brief sign-up period during the middle of summer, when farmer’s schedules run from dawn to dusk, will stunt the growth potential of this program. This program is about planning and short sign-ups fail to facilitate such planning. The Administration cares more about getting the money out than running a workable program.”

These factors only contribute to the Hotline’s importance for farmers and ranchers truly committed to improving stewardship, according to Bruckner. “We want to ensure that the farmers and ranchers this program was intended to reward are able to fully access the program.” The Hotline is designed to assist farmers and ranchers with questions regarding how to apply and program eligibility. Eligibility questions will center around the self-assessment that farmers and ranchers will need to complete. This self-assessment can serve as the first hurdle to cross in accessing the CSP and the Hotline will be there to assist farmers and ranchers with this process.

For more information on the Conservation Security Program or the Hotline, contact Traci Bruckner at 402-687-2100 or email

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