Conservation Program Deadlines & Application Windows are around the corner. Are you prepared?

Fall Covers for Spring Saving Program Applications open December 15, 2021

Farmers can apply for Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) Fall Covers for Spring Savings Cover Crop Premium Discount Program starting at 8:00am December 15, 2021. Thanks to American Farmland Trust, YOUR advocacy, and advocacy efforts from partners, the FCSS program doubled from 50,000 acres to 100,000 acres! 

FCSS Program Checklist:

  • Prior to applying, certify your fall planted cover crop acres with the FSA office. Use the FSA 578 form. 
  • crop insurance policy number(s)
  • acres of cover crops seeded to each field, farm, tract, common land unit (CLU)/Field #, and legal description of fields/acres seeded to cover crops in fall 2021
  • Mark your calendar for December 15, sign-up begins at 8:00am on a first-come basis 
Fall Covers for Spring Savings Cover Crop Premium Discount Program sign-up easy step video. (Thanks for this great resource American Farmland Trust!

Mark your calendar for 8:00am on December 15 and make sure you sure you have everything you need to apply by visiting Illinois Department of Agricultures website. If you need additional assistance, contact your local Soil Water Conservation District (SWCD) office or the IDOA Bureau of Land and Water Resources at 217-782-6297. 

January 7 Deadline to apply for CSP and EQIP 

Yes, you read that right! Though farmers can apply year round, Illinois NRCS has established January 7, 2022 as the application deadline for both the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). If you would like to ensure your application is considered for 2022 funding, apply by January 7. 

Producers interested in CSP & EQIP should submit separate signed applications (NRCS-CPA-1200 forms) to the local NRCS field office or through the website using their account. A blank NRCS-CPA-1200 application form may be obtained from the local office or on the Illinois NRCS website. Producers wishing to use, can sign in or create an account by clicking on “Sign up” in the upper right of the website.

Applications submitted by January 7, 2022 will be evaluated by the local NRCS field office staff. NRCS staff will work with applicants to assess their land and resource concerns, answer ranking questions, and determine program eligibility. If an application is ranked high enough to be funded, NRCS staff will work with the applicant to develop a contract.

For additional information about CSP, contact your local USDA service center or visit

More Resources

For folks ready to apply for programs, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) has a new resource available to help. NSAC’s Farmers’ Guide to CART is online and contains helpful insight on what to expect when navigating this new NRCS tool and accessing conservation programs.

For farmers ready to explore the CSP, NSAC also has you covered! In 2020, NSAC released its Farmers’ Guide to the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP). The guide provides farmers and ranchers looking to enroll in the CSP program, or renew CSP contracts, with helpful, comprehensive, and accurate information about the program. 

To read more in depth about the tool, see the Farmers’ Guide to CART. For further information, see these additional resources: