Recently, U.S.D.A.'s Natural Resources Conservation Service announced eligible watersheds for sign-up for the 2006 Conservation Security Program. Seven watersheds were announced for the Pacific Northwest & three in Oregon, two each in Idaho and Washington. Now limited sign-up opportunity going into next year may discourage some growers across the Northwest, those who have yet to either sign up for C.S.P. or have not been within a designated watershed over the three years of the program. However, Ron Nicholls says growers in such a predicament and that want to participate in C.S.P. should count their blessings.
NICHOLS: While it may be disappointing that not as many producers will have an opportunity to sign up this year, it does give them an extra year to start doing the sorts of things that will put them in a better position to qualify when their watersheds are selected.
Nichols works for N.R.S.C.'s office in Spokane. And he says the trick is that many Northwest farmers, ranchers, and orchardists are already one step ahead in qualifying for C.S.P., whether they know it or not.
NICHOLS: They're already doing a lot of the environmentally responsible things that would help them qualify for the program. So in other words, a lot of the folks don't have to do a whole lot more to get an annual stewardship payment.
It was recently that an Orondo Washington apple grower, Jesus Limon, was among the honorees of C.S.P. contract signing ceremonies held at 2005 watersheds throughout the country. Nichols says the event doesn't just honor producers in those watersheds. They demonstrate how simple it is for growers to participate in C.S.P., and to encourage growers to do so. Another tool to aid ag producers wishing to transition land with the goal of C.S.P. enrollment is a new N.R.C.S. publication, both available at field offices and at N.R.C.S.'s website. The name of the publication is "Get ready, get set, and get in C.S.P."
NICHOLS: It gives ten tips for things producers can do, very practical. Many of those things people are doing already. It's just a matter of having the records and establishing that track record and those sorts of things.
Producers in eligible watersheds are able to enroll for the 2006 Conservation Security Program some time early in the 2006 fiscal year, that according to Nichols and other N.R.C.S. officials.