your resource for land conservation education and reference April 2014 Newsletter [ Archive ]

No Till Farmer: Steward of the Land

"You take care of the land, and the land will take care of you," says Dan Forgey. Featured in the video above, Forgey practices no-till farming in his home town of Gettysburg, South Dakota. No-till farming improves soil health, increases productivity, reduces input costs and better absorbs water.

Click here for a video demonstration of the drastic differences between tilled and no-till soils.

Photo credit: NRCS

Record Enrollment for LPC Conservation

Private landowners have stepped up to the plate and enrolled an unprecedented amount of acres in conservation programs to conserve and restore Lesser Prairie Chicken habitat. Conservation at this landscape scale was only possible through the collaboration of state agencies, the federal government, nonprofit organizations, and private landowners at the epicenter.

At RFF, our hats are off to private landowners who have enrolled in programs, such as the Range-wide Plan, Candidate Conservation Agreements with Assurances, federal programs, and state conservation initiatives. Combined, the acres enrolled in these conservation programs represent approximately half of the species' current range.

Read more about the acres conserved here.


Photo credit: USDA

3 Things You Need to Know about the 2012 Census of Agriculture

The USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service performs a census of American farmers every year ending in 2 and 7 (2007, 2012, etc.). The agency compiles information, such as demographic, economic, and production data. Results of the 2012 census were released in February. Here are the main takeaways:

  1. The average age of farmers continues to rise: the average age of farmers rose from 57.1 in 2007 to 58.3 in 2012. However, the number of farmers ages 25-34 rose by 2.3%, indicating that more young people are getting involved in farming.
  2. There are fewer farms and less farmland: the U.S. had 95,000 fewer farms in 2012 than it did in 2007, and 7.5 million less acres of farmland.
  3. Most farms are small and run by part-time farmers: 75% of all farms grossed less than $50,000 in 2012, while only 4% grossed more than $1 million. Of the 2.1 million farmers that responded, 52% reported that farming was their secondary occupation.

These statistics show why the resources on the Private Landowner Network and Conservation Tax Center, which provide free and easy access to conservation information and local resources, and prepare aging landowners for successful inter-generational transfers of working land, are needed and relevant today.

Photo credit: NRCS

USDA Expands Support for Small and Mid-sized Farmers and Ranchers

In response to statistics from the latest Census of Agriculture, Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack announced new and expanded efforts to connect small and mid-sized farmers and ranchers to USDA resources.

"The recent Census of Agriculture shows that there is tremendous growth potential for small and mid-sized producers in the American agricultural landscape ...These producers are critical to out country's agricultural and economic future," said Vilsack.

Want to learn more? You can read the full USDA press release and find all of the USDA programs on PLN.

Photo credit: Ken Ratcliff.

Quapaw Canoe Co. in Turbulent Waters

Mississippi's Quapaw Canoe Company, the only nature tourism company that paddles the Mississippi River, has run afoul of the state's Department of Revenue, which has assessed Quapaw for more than $41,000, including interest and penalties, in back taxes over the past four years.

Quapaw is fighting the taxes in court, which contradict the U.S. Rivers and Harbors Act that prohibits state taxes on businesses operating on navigable waterways, and campaigning for legislation that rectifies the discrepancy in the tax code.

Learn more about Quapaw's fight, and support its cause on Indiegogo


Bills to Make the Enhanced Conservation Easement Tax Incentive Permanent

Almost every year we wait to see if Congress will pass an extension that allows for landowners to take a larger charitable deduction for the donation of a conservation easement. This year, two bills have been proposed that would make the enhanced conservation easement tax incentive permanent. They are the Tax Reform Act of 2014, proposed by House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp, and the President’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2015.

Read about the key provisions here

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