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Western Sustainable Agriculture Working Group members and friends,

USDA announced today that they will offer 12,700 contracts for the 2005 applicants to the CSP(see release below). The USDA estimates this will translate into more than $1 billion in long term commitment to conservation and in my words, increased sustainability . Despite all the current and future issues with this program we should celebrate this accomplishment!

Speaking of issues, the money was allocated so that all Category A and Category B applicants were funded nationally, along with Category C-1. For those who aren't familiar with this allocation system and how it relates to the Tier levels (I, II, II) in the CSP law, this may help:

NRCS categorizes applicants into categories- A-E and Tiers-

Tier I- categories A-E
Tier II - Categories A-E
Tier II - Categories A-E

Also even within Categories we have subcategorizes, hence the C-1.

So applicants who were in Categories A through C-1 regardless of Tier were funded.

PLEASE not that this allocation system likely means that more Tier I farmers and ranchers are being funded because it is much easier to get in at that level then say a Tier III Category D producer. Another way of saying this is that some better conservation farmers and ranchers that applied that are in Tier III or Tier II Category, C-2 through E are NOT being funded. Hence, the CSP is not rewarding the best or necessarily motivating the rest as the USDA has suggested this program should be doing (i.e. reward the best and motivate the rest).

The Category allocation system is NOT in the CSP law and is completely concocted by the NRCS. Also even the Watershed basis of allocation is not in the law, which also limits access. Finally, because this program is not funded as a mandatory entitlement program (all eligible are funded) as the law was authorized, we have cut out significant number of producers in this country from accessing this great program. REMEMBER the "rule" for this program in not final. PLEASE comment on these and other issues by sending your comments to:

Comments should be postmarked by midnight, September 9. Send comments in writing, by mail, to Financial Assistance Programs Division, Natural Resources Conservation Service, P.O. Box 2890, Washington, D.C. 20013-2890, or by e-mail to FarmBillRules@usda.gov; Attn: Conservation Security Program. For more information, contact Craig Derickson, CSP Program Manager, at 202-720-3524 or 202-756-5041 or craig.derickson@wdc.usda.gov.


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