What's New Archive
Apply for Agriculture Conservation Easement Program from USDA/NRCS (02/14/2017)
Jackson, Miss. – The United States Department of Agriculture / Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is accepting applications for the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP). ACEP provides financial and technical assistance to landowners and Native American Tribes with conservation efforts on agricultural lands and wetlands. The application deadline to be considered for fiscal year 2017 funding is February 24, 2017. Read the release.
Feb. 17 application deadline approaching for USDA funding (02/14/2017)
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is making available $500 million in financial and technical assistance through the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP). Conservation easements are an important tool to help landowners and partners voluntarily provide long-term protection of our nation's farmland, ranchland, wetlands and grasslands for future generations. Read the release.
NRCS Accepting Applications to Assist Farmers and Ranchers Address Colorado’s Natural Resource Concerns (02/14/2017)
The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Colorado is currently accepting applications for enrollment into the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). EQIP is a voluntary Farm Bill program that provides financial assistance for conservation systems such as animal waste management facilities, irrigation system efficiency improvements, fencing, water supply development, riparian protection, and wildlife habitat enhancement. Applications must be submitted by Friday, February 17, 2017.
NRCS Accepting Applications through March 1, 2017, for 2 Regional Conservation Partnership Program Projects in Arkansas (02/14/2017)
Farmers and landowners in five Arkansas counties have until March 1, 2017, to submit applications to receive financial assistance through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) to implement conservation practices in two Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) projects. Applicants can sign up at their local USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service field service center.
Love for environment motivates ‘local’ farmer (02/08/2017)
CEDAR BLUFF, Miss. -- Ali Fratesi Pinion may be part of the millennial generation, but she farms more like her great-grandparents. Pinion and her husband, Dustin, operate Beaverdam Farms in Clay County on the principle that healthy soils create better foods and communities.
Read on here.
Federal funds available for conservation projects (02/08/2017)
Virginia farmers and forest landowners can apply for assistance to protect the health and productivity of their land under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, which the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service administers. Landowners should sign up by Feb. 17 to be eligible for 2017 funding.
Read more here.
Routt County'd ranch preservation program closes in on 50,000 acres conserved (02/08/2017)
Steamboat Springs — Routt County’s tradition of leveraging dedicated tax dollars to conserve working agricultural landscapes was nearing a landmark as 2017 began, and with the closing of another five pending conservation easements this year, the county’s Purchase of Development Rights program will have surpassed 50,000 acres conserved.
Read the article.
No Land, No Water campaign to promote conservation in Texas (02/08/2017)
Texas Agricultural Land Trust (TALT) has announced a new campaign to raise awareness for the contributions of private working lands to the water supply.
Learn more here.
Potato crop rotation research in Presque Isle points to peas (01/31/2017)
PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — In the search for a third rotation crop for potatoes, trials at the Aroostook Research Farm in Presque Isle are showing some promise for field peas, a crop that once had a successful run in the region until the 1970s.
Read on here.
What a landowner should know about conservation easements in Texas (01/25/2017)
There are four major must-knows about a conservation easement: It’s voluntary; it’s an exercise of the owner’s private property rights; it’s a negotiated document; and it’s permanent. “It's not for everyone, and it requires a lot of contemplation to make sure your goals are being met,” says Ken Cearley, stewardship director for Texas Agricultural Land Trust. Watch here.
Officials eye efficient energy possibilities in rural Maine (01/25/2017)
Feb. 17 the Piscataquis County conservation district will host a rural energy workshop to educate homeowners, farmers and business owners about how they can more efficiently power their properties. Learn more here.
Conservation Stewardship Program application deadline is Feb. 3 (01/25/2017)
Since signup is continuous, ag producers can visit their local USDA Service Center to submit an application. However, applications not submitted before this deadline will have to wait until FY2018 for their application to be considered. Learn more about CSP and how to apply here.
Prairie Falcon Audubon Hosts Presentation (01/24/2017)
TWIN FALLS — Prairie Falcon Audubon will host a program on “Fish, Birds, Bugs and Bats: Highlights from 10 years of conducting wildlife research in Idaho” at 7 p.m. Feb. 2 at the College of Southern Idaho's Shields Building, room 201. Click here to learn more.
Supporting Organic Integrity with Clear Livestock and Poultry Standards (01/18/2017)
JANUARY 19, 2017: Today, USDA announced a final rule regarding organic livestock and poultry production practices. The rule strengthens the organic standards, and ensures that all organic animals live in pasture based systems utilizing production practices that support their well-being and natural behavior. Learn more here.
Wynne family to sell Off 1,040 acres of historic North Texas ranch (01/18/2017)
The Wynne family has decided to sell off portions of their North Texas ranch — land the family has owned going back generations to The Battle of San Jacinto in 1836 — with the hope of keeping it a pristine working ranch. "The goal would be to sell it as a working ranch...There's not a conservation easement on the property, but it's ideally suited for that." Click here to learn more about the property.
USDA Announces $252 Million Available for Regional Conservation Partnership Program (01/13/2017)
WASHINGTON, Jan. 12, 2017 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today invited potential conservation partners, including private industry, non-government organizations, Indian tribes, state and local governments, water districts, and universities to submit project applications for federal funding through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). Click here for more details.
Texas Soil Health Short Course to Offer Learning Experience for Landowners (01/13/2017)
The Texas Soil Health Short Course will be held on February 22-23, 2017 at the Region 9 Education Service Center in Wichita Falls, Texas. The short course will offer the opportunity to gain a better understanding of soil properties including water infiltration, water holding capacity, and organic matter content. Click here for more details.
So, you want to get your hands into the soil (01/12/2017)
Starting Feb. 1, 2017, the Northern Piedmont Beginning Farmer program will be offering two different Beginning Farmer courses. The Fauquier Education Farm also will partner with the Piedmont Environmental Council to offer a pair of workshops on land acquisition in March. Learn more here.
New Program Rewards Arkansas Landowners for Improving Quail Habitat (01/06/2017)
In Arkansas, bobwhite quail may soon be primed for recovery thanks to a new habitat-improvement program.
According to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, the Natural Resources Conservation Service will offer more than $600,000 to landowners in 20 counties for improving bobwhite quail habitat. These funds will be provided through the Working Lands for Wildlife program, an NRCS initiative designed to help landowners improve habitat for at-risk species. Read the article.
Cattleman's Agricultural Land Trust Closes Two Projects (01/05/2017)
The Colorado Cattlemen's Agricultural Land Trust has been a pioneer since its inception in 1995 and has helped conserve more than 465,000 acres of Colorado land. Recently, the staff closed extraordinary projects with two multi-generational Colorado families, the Mays and the MacLennans, which combined will conserve over 18 thousand acres. Read the article.
Meters Project to Help Gauge Farms' Water Use (01/04/2017)
The Arkansas Natural Resources Commission and the federal Natural Resources Conservation Service are getting ready to start a new cost-sharing program with some of the state's farmers to better measure how much water is used on fields. Learn more here.
Farm Land Protector Soldiers on at Age 82 (01/04/2017)
The Ag Land Trust’s efforts to preserve Salinas Valley farm land extends all the way to Camp Roberts in south Monterey County.
The trust has acquired conservation easements for nearly 4,500 acres of ranch land around the historic Army base. This allows the 42,784-acre facility to operate as a California National Guard training base without encroachment from development. Read the article.
USDA Provides New Cost Share Opportunities for Organic Producers and Handlers (12/22/2016)
WASHINGTON, Dec. 21, 2016 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced that starting March 20, 2017, organic producers and handlers will be able to visit over 2,100 USDA Farm Service Agency offices around the country to apply for federal reimbursement to assist with the cost of receiving and maintaining organic or transitional certification. Learn more here.
New Partnership-Driven Projects Boost Conservation in California (12/22/2016)
DAVIS, Calif., Dec. 21, 2016: USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service today announced $225 million in funding for 88 partnership projects nationwide. California captured funding for four projects—three completely within the state and one shared with Nevada. Funding comes through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program, created in the 2014 Farm Bill. Learn more here.
Arkansas Darter on Its Way Back (12/22/2016)
The Arkansas darter, a two-and-a-half inch native perch found throughout Southeastern Colorado, Kansas and a few other states, is no longer on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife threatened species list. Learn more here.
Two Area Farms Honored for Conservation Efforts (12/13/2016)
RICHMOND, Va. (NEWSPLEX) -- The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation recognized ten farms across the Commonwealth for their conservation practices. Read more here.
USDA Preps $20 Million for Arkansas Wetlands Restoration Program (12/08/2016)
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Service is making $20 million available to Arkansas landowners to restore wetlands. The program to limit future development is voluntary and funded by the 2014 Farm Bill. Read more.
NRCS to Expand Targeted Conservation Effort for Wildlife on Agricultural Lands (12/02/2016)
USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is adding 11 new projects to Working Lands for Wildlife (WLFW), the agency’s targeted, science-based effort to help producers restore and protect habitat for declining species on farms, ranches and working forests.
Forest Stewardship, Management, Restoration Topics of Series (11/29/2016)
UNITY, ME — Morten Moesswilde, district forester for the Maine Forest Service, will speak about forest stewardship, management and restoration at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 14, at the Sebasticook Regional Land Trust office, 93 Main St.
Read the article.
Southern Agricultural Cover Crops Workshop (11/21/2016)
Farmers across Arkansas and from across the country are invited to the Southern Agricultural Cover Crops, Soil Health and Water Management Conference December 13 - 14 being held at the Arkansas State University Convocation Center in Jonesboro, Ark. For more information or to register for the Southern Agricultural Cover Crops, Soil Health and Water Management Conference, contact Debbie Moreland, AACD program administrator, at (501) 682-2915.
Apple, conservation group donate easement on 32,400 acres in Aroostook County (11/18/2016)
REED PLANTATION, Maine — One of the world’s largest tech companies and a top-ranked conservation organization who last year partnered to buy a large swath of land in southern Aroostook County are again joining forces to donate a conservation easement on the more than 32,400 acres known as Reed Forest. Read more here.
Funds Available to Help Control Invasive Species in 10 Virginia Counties (11/18/2016)
Richmond, VA, November 16, 2016 – USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is now making $644,000 available for Virginia property owners interested in controlling non-native, invasive plants in their woodland and adjacent pastureland. Learn more here.
USDA Announces Applications Available for Conservation Stewardship Program (11/17/2016)
Beginning November 14, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will accept and process applications for enrollment in the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), the nation’s largest conservation program. Applications will be made available in local service centers. Click here to read the news release.
USDA funds available for fencing livestock out of Virginia streams (11/17/2016)
The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service is making $874,000 available to farmers in 21 Virginia localities who are interested in improving Chesapeake Bay water quality by installing livestock exclusion and forestry practices in targeted rivers and streams. Read the article here.
Coberly Creek Ranch conservation emblematic of the 1880s in South Routt County (11/16/2016)
Steamboat Springs — The final piece of the conservation of the sprawling Coberly Creek Ranch in South Routt County was approved by the Routt County Board of Commissioners Nov. 8, and the 400-acre Trapper Jack parcel alludes to an obscure piece of local history. Click here to read the article.
USDA Expands Working-Lands Conservation Opportunities through CRP (11/07/2016)
Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Deputy Under Secretary Alexis Taylor today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will offer a new Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) Grasslands practice specifically tailored for small-scale livestock grazing operations. Small livestock operations with 100 or fewer head of grazing dairy cows (or the equivalent) can submit applications to enroll up to 200 acres of grasslands per farm. USDA’s goal is to enroll up to 200,000 acres. Read the article.
The Energy Blend: Moffat County ranchers tap the sun to deliver water to animals (11/07/2016)
Solar-powered water systems let livestock drink more easily and take pressure off ponds and streams. Read the article.
Texas Farm & Ranch Lands Conservation Program (TFRLCP) is now accepting applications (11/03/2016)
The Texas Farm & Ranch Lands Conservation Program (TFRLCP) is now accepting applications for the purchase of conservation easements. To qualify, a landowner must partner with a land trust who will submit the application.
Applications are scored based on criteria such as threat of development, water resources protected, and the availability of matching funds. To meet the matching funds criteria, we encourage landowners to also consider applying to the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) through the Natural Resource Conservation Service.
New Program in Winslow to Offer Property Tax Relief for Farms (11/02/2016)
In October, Winslow became the first town in Maine to receive applications for its new Voluntary Municipal Farm Support Program, which allows qualifying landowners to grant a temporary agricultural conservation easement to the town. Read the article.
Local Organizations getting over $1 million in Virginia land conservation grants (09/22/2016)
Over $6 million in grants from the Virginia Land Conservation Foundation (VLCF) is going to shield 7,037 acres of at-risk land from development, including two major projects in Rockingham and Augusta County. Read on here.
Jewell, Hickenlooper nurture “epic collaboration” in $760M western push to save endangered sage grouse (09/22/2016)
The federal government and non-profit partners plan to spend another $360 million to spur states, landowners and developers to save the imperiled greater sage grouse across a Texas-sized area of sagebrush steppe spanning 11 Western states.
Read the full article here.
Disease and beetles threaten thousands of acres at Bogus Basin (09/19/2016)
The combination of dwarf mistletoe disease and bark beetles have threatened thousands of trees in and around Idaho's Boise Nation Forest. These two pests attack trees every year, but "typically they'll kill three to ten trees at a time," said Stephaney Kerley with the Forest Service. "What we're seeing right now is bark beetles are killing pockets of fifty to one hundred trees at a time."
Learn more here.
Conservation Reserve Program celebrates 30 years of environmental improvements (09/16/2016)
"I think that CRP is one of the most successful federal conservation programs that this government has ever administered in the field because it provides a direct and significant benefit, not only to farmers and ranchers, but to city dwellers and others who enjoy the habitat that's created by CRP lands; the carbon sequestered; the thousands of miles of riparian buffers and stream buffers that are prepared by CRP," said Val Dolcini, Administrator of the USDA Farm Service Agency.
Watch the video and learn more here.
USDA grant $1.3 million to Louisiana organizations for conservation efforts (09/12/2016)
Against stiff competition, two Louisiana groups received a collective $1.3 million of the $26.6 million in grants for agriculture and conservation innovation announced Thursday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Learn more here.
California to get more than $5 million from USDA for agricultural innovation (09/12/2016)
The U.S. Department of Agriculture will steer more than $5 million to California agriculture and conservation programs as part of a $26.6-million naitonal campaign to bring innovation to the sector.
Learn more here.
Klobuchar, Boozman Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Improve Access to Voluntary Farm Conservation Programs (09/08/2016)
The Improving Access to Farm Conservation Act would remove burdensome regulation which makes it hard for beginning and small farmers to access voluntary conservation programs offered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service.
Learn more here.
Learn About the Wildlife Benefits in Managed Forests (09/01/2016)
If you are a forester, private landowner, or state/federal agency habitat manager, then you will want to learn the results of a project assessing "Desired Ecological States Provided by Open Pine in Managed Forests," sponsored by the Gulf Coastal Plains & Ozarks Landscape Conservation Cooperative. Why? Because existing data was incorporated into HabPlan harvest scheduling software to simulate a variety of management options across 50 years. The results identify options for providing open pine wildlife habitat conditions in managed forests across the region as well as biodiversity responses to those management options. The Society of American Foresters has pre-approved this webinar for one Continuing Forestry Education credit hour.
Register Here »
Legacy Dollars Fund Mississippi River Habitat Protection (08/30/2016)
Landowners wishing to protect the habitat of the Mississippi River are invited to consider fee title acquisition or an easement program. Learn more here.
Virginia can lead the way in restoring Chesapeake Bay (08/29/2016)
Communities across Virginia are taking steps to reverse the impacts of past development and redesign new development in ways that will protect water quality.
Read on here.
Conservation workshops target female landowners. (08/26/2016)
Brought to you by the American Farmland Trust, the Warrenton "Women and Land" workshops are designed to help women landowners achieve their conservation objectives. Learn more and register here.
Maine Farm Days, which begin Wednesday, August 24 in Clinton, is for farmers and the public alike (08/23/2016)
This year's fair, which runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, at Misty Meadows Farm features an expanded children's section and a rainfall simulator from the Natural Resources Conservation Service.
Learn more about the fair here.
University of California Cooperative Extension Wild Pig Survey (08/22/2016)
In managed rangelands and agricultural areas, feral or wild pigs are a significant pest species. UCCE Livestock and Range Advisors and Wildlife Specialists need your help by filling out a short statewide survey on wild pig damage found here.
It should only take about 15 minutes to complete. Individual identities and survey responses will be kept confidential. Participation in the survey is entirely voluntary.
Push on to Restore Shortleaf Pine in Forests in State (08/22/2016)
Shortleaf pine numbers are shrinking in the southeastern United States, but Arkansas and other states are working to restore the durable and long-living trees in the region's forests. Learn more here.
Conservation in Action Tour (08/18/2016)
The 9th annual Conservation in Action Tour will feature pioneering conservation agriculture practices in Idaho's Treasure Valley. The program begins at 5:30 pm on Tuesday, August 23, with a reception at JUMP in Boise. Learn more about the event and click here to register.
McAllen's Quinta Mazatlàn Awarded Conservation Grant (08/17/2016)
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, through the Great Texas Birding Classic, awarded Quinta Mazatlán a conservation grant to support its Great Homes for Great Birds project, which focuses on Purple Martins, the largest swallow species in North America. Learn more here.
Apply through Sept. 1 for the Conservatino Legacy Award (08/17/2016)
Applications are now being accepted through Sept. 2, 2016, for the 2017 Conservation Legacy Awards program, which showcases farm management practices of U.S. soybean producers that are both environmentally friendly and profitable. More information here.
Program Preserves Ag Land for Climate Benefits (08/11/2016)
In its second year, Cap-and-Trade funded Sustainable Agricultural Lands Conservation (SALC) Program commits $37.4 million to shield agricultural land from development. Learn more here.
Downeast Salmon Federation is seeking Director for their Downeast Rivers Land Trust (08/08/2016)
Downeast Salmon Federation is re-opening our search for a high-energy and unstoppable person to lead our three year campaign to protect 35 miles of frontage on some of wildest rivers remaining on the east coast. Funding is available, large blocks of land are coming onto the market and the region is beautiful with rich and varied habitat--this is a campaign that will be fun--and won.
Job description is here. Please take look and pass on to others who might be interested.
LSU AgCenter Study Shows Feral Hog Damage to Water Bodies (08/08/2016)
A recent study detailing the amount of damage feral hogs are causing to water bodies in Louisiana is cause for concern, said Michael Kaller, an LSU AgCenter researcher specializing in fish and stream ecology.
Read the article here.
McAuliffe Touts Water Quality Improvement Funding for Virginia Agriculture (08/05/2016)
Aug. 4, 2016: Governor McAuliffe today discussed Virginia’s $61 million investment in agricultural best management practices at the annual Virginia Ag Expo, sponsored by the Virginia Grain Producers Association and Virginia Soybean Association in collaboration with the Virginia Cooperative Extension Service.
Walmart Foundation Gives Rice Program $1M (08/05/2016)
The Walmart Foundation has given $1 million to a partnership led by Ducks Unlimited and USA Rice to help rice producers "increase sustainability and profitability," the waterfowl conservation nonprofit announced Aug. 5, 2016.
Read more here.
Small Woodlot Owners a Powerful Force for Future of Maine's Forests (08/05/2016)
"There has been a real shift toward more small ownership of woodlots in Maine," which make up 5 million of the state's 17 million forested acres, said Tom Doak, executive director of the Small Woodland Owners Association of Maine.
Read the article here.
New Program Pays Central Valley Farmers to Grow Wildlife Habitat (08/04/2016)
Critical habitat for wildlife has been reduced by drought, development and other pressures. Ann Hayden of the Environmental Defense Fund talks about radical incentives for landowners to help fill the void. Read the article here.
Big Thinking in Texas: How to Make the Endangered Species Act Work for All (08/01/2016)
Central Texas is home to many of the nation's fastest growing cities and counties and almost entirely privately owned, but it is also a hotspot for biodiversity, including some species unique to Texas and protected under the Endangered Species Act.
Learn more here.
Helmick Family Conserves Vital Habitat For Sage Grouse In Idaho (07/29/2016)
To this multi-generational family, conservation and ranching are one and the same.
“We’ve increased the carrying capacity and grass production, which lets us leave more for the wildlife. Plus, we can run more cows.” -Neil Helmick
Learn how the family implemented voluntary conservation projects in partnership with the Natural Resource Conservation Service-led Sage Grouse Initiative (SGI) to ensure sensitive riparian areas and habitat remained undisturbed by livestock for wildlife and sage grouse during critical brood rearing periods in June and July.
Support the Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund (07/27/2016)
The Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund conserves wildlife and open spaces through the sale of instant, scratch lottery tickets. With proceeds from ticket sales, grants are awarded twice a year, totaling approximately $700,000 annually.
Learn More »
Desired Forest Condition Metrics & Wildlife Habitat Models for Open Pine Habitat & Species Webinar (07/14/2016)
If you are a forester, land manager, or landowner with pine forest and an interest in wildlife, then you will be interested in the combined presentation of two recently completed GCPO LCC-sponsored projects that address how to manage open pine savanna and woodlands to enhance wildlife habitat and biodiversity. The first project, “Developing and Applying Desired Forest Condition (DFC) Metrics for Open Pine Ecosystems” was recently completed by Rickie White, Project Manager/Ecologist with NatureServe. The second project, Using Wildlife Habitat Models to Evaluate Open Pine Desired Management Endpoints” was recently completed by Mike Conner PhD, Wildlife Ecologist and Lora Smith PhD, Associate Scientist, both of the Joseph W. Jones Ecological Research Center.
Webinar will be held August 1st at 1pm CDT Register Here
USDA Announces $49 Million Public-Private Investment to Improve Critical Wetlands in 12 States (07/07/2016)
Through its Wetlands Reserve Enhancement Partnership (WREP), the USDA is awarding $44.6 million to support 10 wetland enhancement projects on private and tribal agricultural lands in 12 States. The WREP is a special option under the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program. Read the press release.
New Study Quantifies Benefits of Agricultural Conservation in Upper Mississippi River Basin (06/23/2016)
Researchers at the U.S. Geological Survey and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have published a new study that demonstrates that agricultural conservation practices in the upper Mississippi River watershed can reduce nitrogen inputs to area streams and rivers by as much as 34 percent.
When Development Must Mitigate - Opportunities for Western Landowners (06/02/2016)
On June 16th, 10-11:30 am MDT, the Western Landowners Alliance will team with Brian Kuehl and Robert Veldman from K·Coe Conservation and Jessica Wilkinson from The Nature Conservancy to bring you a conversation around private land mitigation opportunities. Register here.
USDA Awards Funds to Expand, Accelerate Wood Energy Products Markets in 19 States (05/16/2016)
May 13, 2016 - The USDA's Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell today announced over $8.5 million to expand and accelerate technologies that promote wood product innovations that also benefit forest health. Read the news release here.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to Announce Major Investment for Conservation, Results of Climate-Smart Agriculture Plan at Center for American Progress (05/09/2016)
Thursday, May 12, Secretary Vilsack will deliver keynote remarks and announce a major new investment in conservation practices that improve soil, water, plant, animal, air and related natural resources on agricultural land and non-industrial private forestlands at the Center for American Progress.
More Than 800,000 Acres Selected Through Highly Competitive CRP Application Rounds (05/05/2016)
Agriculture Secretary Vilsack announced the enrollment of more than 800,000 acres in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) through the program’s 49th sign up period. CRP helps farmers offset the costs of restoring, enhancing and protecting certain grasses, shrubs and trees that improve water quality, prevent soil erosion and strengthen wildlife habitat. Read the press release here.
Groups of Farmers May Now Join Together for Good Ag. Practices (04/11/2016)
If you are a farmer wanting to be certified in USDA's Good Agricultural Practices program, you may be able to join with your fellow producers in your area in getting that certification. (Gary Crawford and Chuck Parrott) Listen to radio story or read article.
USDA Announces $260 Million Available for Regional Conservation Partnership Program (03/14/2016)
Applications for the Regional Conservation Partnership Program sought with a focus on environmental markets, conservation finance. Read the new release here.
USDA Commits $20 Million to Innovative Conservation Projects (03/08/2016)
WASHINGTON, March 7, 2016 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the availability of up to $20 million in competitive grants through the Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) program. The program aims to spark the development and adoption of cutting-edge conservation technologies and approaches for farmers, ranchers and other landowners. See the full news release from the USDA.
Open Data Powers New Conservation Mapping Tool for USDA, Partners (02/23/2016)
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Feb. 23, 2016 – USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the University of Montana and other partners have used Google Earth Engine to build a new interactive online map tool that, for the first time, combines layers of data to better target invasive species that are damaging habitat and rangeland. The tool was built as part of USDA’s ongoing Sage Grouse Initiative (SGI) and presents geospatial data covering a 100 million acre landscape in eight western States.
USDA to Invest $150 Million through Conservation Stewardship Program to Help Improve Working Lands (02/11/2016)
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that $150 million in funding is available for agricultural producers through the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), USDA’s largest conservation program that helps producers voluntarily improve the health and productivity of private and Tribal working lands. Read the news release here.
Wetland Mitigation Banking Webinar on Feb. 10 (02/09/2016)
A webinar for those interested in learning more about USDA wetland mitigation banking and this request for proposals will be held on Wednesday, February 10 beginning at 3 PM EST. Learn more here.
Texas Agritourism Act (02/01/2016)
Texas now has a new statute offering liability protection for agritourism operations. The Act, carried as SB 610 and now codified as Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code Chapter 75A, offers important protections of which landowners need to be aware.
Learn more here.
North Carolina Landowners Express Support for Recovery of Endangered Red Wolves (01/28/2016)
Albemarle Peninsula, N.C.—More than 80 private landowners in North Carolina’s five-county red wolf recovery area signed a petition, sent today to U.S Fish and Wildlife Service director Dan Ashe, expressing their support for keeping endangered red wolves on their land.
Read the press release here.
NRCS Extends Sign Up for Funding to Improve Habitat for Grassland Birds in Nebraska (01/22/2016)
Landowners in southern Nebraska now have until February 19, 2016 to apply for funding through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) to help improve grazing land and habitat for grassland birds.
For more information about the RCPP and other conservation programs available from NRCS, visit your local USDA Service center or www.ne.nrcs.usda.gov.
Power line would run through part of Texas land preserve (01/20/2016)
The owner of a large, privately preserved spread in the Texas Hill Country is fighting to persuade regulators to change the route of a planned electric transmission line that could cut through the area know for wildlife habitat protection. Read the article here.
The 75th Annual Maine Agricultural Trades Show Begins Today (01/12/2016)
The trades show will be held in the Augusta Civic Center January 12th-14th. Click here for more information and a full schedule of events.
Congress Votes to Make Permanent the Tax Incentive for Conservation Easement Donations (12/22/2015)
In a strong bipartisan action, the Senate voted 65-33 today to pass the bill that will make the tax incentive for conservation easement donations permanent. This follows yesterday’s 318-109 vote in the House. This legislation represents a huge win for conservation, for landowners and for the land trust community. Once signed into law the incentive will be applied retroactively to start Jan. 1, 2015.
Learn more here.
Congress expected to vote on new tax legislation soon (12/17/2015)
The Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015 (PATH) will make permanent a variety of individual and business tax incentives. The provisions are the enhanced Child Tax Credit, the enhanced American Opportunity Tax Credit, the enhanced Earned Income Tax Credit, the above-the-line deduction for teachers who buy school supplies, the charitable deduction of contributions of real property for conservation purposes, along with the Research & Development Tax Credit and Section 179 expensing.
USDA Begins 49th Enrollment Period for the Conservation Reserve Program (12/07/2015)
General enrollment for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) begins today, Dec. 1, 2015, and ends on Feb. 26, 2016. CRP is a federally funded program that assists agricultural producers with the cost of restoring, enhancing and protecting certain grasses, shrubs and trees to improve water quality, prevent soil erosion and reduce loss of wildlife habitat.
Sen. George Mitchell delivers keynote address at Resources First Foundation benefit breakfast (11/12/2015)
Our event Tuesday with Senator Mitchell was such a big success it made it on WMTW 8's evening news!
Watch the clip here.
Sage grouse avoids endangered listing (09/22/2015)
Wildlife officials announced Tuesday that the greater sage grouse does not need protection as an endangered species. Read Article »
USDA to invest $20 million to help 15 states increase recreational public access on private farm, ranch, and forest lands (09/15/2015)
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced funding from the Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program to improve and increase wildlife habitat and public access for recreational opportunities on privately-owned and operated farm, ranch, and forest lands. Learn more here.
USDA Offers Help to Fire-Affected Farmers and Ranchers (09/15/2015)
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reminds farmers and ranchers affected by the recent wildfires in Alaska, California, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington State that USDA has programs to assist with their recovery efforts. Read More »
Resources First Foundation Announces Hiring of Alexandra Serra (08/05/2015)
YARMOUTH, MAINE, August 5, 2015 - Today, Resources First Foundation announced the hiring of Alexandra Serra as their new Chief Strategy Officer and Executive Vice President of Public Affairs, Strategic Planning, Partnerships (CSO/ EVPPA). Click here to read the press release.
USDA Announces Conservation Incentives for Working Grass, Range and Pasture Lands (07/15/2015)
WASHINGTON, July 12, 2015 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the beginning Sept. 1, farmers and ranchers can apply for financial assistance to help conserve working grasslands, rangeland and pasture land while maintaining the areas as livestock grazing lands.
Click here to learn more.
Secretary Tom Vilsack Visits His 50th State to Announce Energy Grants for Small Business Owners and Rural Ag Producers (06/11/2015)
With visit to Wyoming, Vilsack will have visited all 50 states as Agriculture Secretary. Read the article here.
Successful Conservation Partnership Keeps Bi-State Sage-Grouse off Endangered Species List (04/22/2015)
RENO, Nev. April 21, 2015 – U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has determined that the Bi-State population of greater sage-grouse does not require the protection of the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
Read the news release here.
USDA Announces Record Number of Organic Producers in U.S. (04/15/2015)
WASHINGTON, April 15, 2015 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced today that the organic industry continues to show remarkable growth domestically and globally, with 19,474 certified organic operations in the United States and a total of 27,814 certified organic operations around the world.
Read the full USDA release here.
USDA to Provide $332 Million to Protect and Restore Agricultural Working Lands, Grasslands and Wetlands (03/31/2015)
WASHINGTON, March 31, 2015 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that U.S. Department of Agriculture is making available $332 million in financial and technical assistance through the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP). USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will accept ACEP applications to help productive farm and ranch lands remain in agriculture and to protect the nation's critical wetlands and grasslands, home to diverse wildlife and plant species.
Private landowners, tribes, and eligible entities are encouraged to apply by May 15.
Read the rest of the press release here.
USDA Extends ARC and PLC Deadlines (03/27/2015)
WASHINGTON, March 27, 2015 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today provided farm owners and producers one additional week, until April 7, 2015, to choose between Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC), the safety-net programs established by the 2014 Farm Bill. The final day to update yield history or reallocate base acres also will be April 7, 2015.
Read the press release in full.
Interim Final Rule for Agricultureal Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) Released (03/16/2015)
The new rule for the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program — which includes both the Wetland Reserve Easement Program (WRE) and the Agricultural Land Easement (ALE) program — has been released.
This is an “Interim Final Rule,” meaning that it goes into effect immediately, but there is a 60-day comment period for people to submit comments to the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). NRCS says they will look at all comments and come up with a final, final rule by the end of the year. The fiscal year 2015 funding allocations for each state have been sent to the state conservationists, and the actual dollars will start to flow as the new policy manual is released.
Conservation Technology Information Center Surveys Farmers on Cover Crops (03/02/2015)
Farmers are invited to share their thoughts on cover crops - whether or not they use cover crops themselves - in a national survey, now in its third year of collecting valuable data on the increasingly popular management practice. Farmers who complete the questionnaire are eligible for a drawing for one of two $100 Visa gift cards.
Learn more and take the survey here.
House Passes Conservation Tax Incentive (02/13/2015)
The House successfully voted 279-137, demonstrating a supermajority (67%) of support, on H.R. 644, a package of charitable incentives including the conservation tax incentive. The bill passed with bipartisan support despite the Democratic leadership’s opposition. Learn More »
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to Announce Funds for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Projects (02/09/2015)
Tuesday, February 10 Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is set to announce that rural agricultural producers and small business owners can now apply for resources to purchase and install renewable energy systems or make energy efficiency improvements. Learn more here.
Upcoming Vote on Enhanced Conservation Easement Incentive (02/09/2015)
The House is expected to vote on the incentive (H.R. 641) as soon as Wednesday, February 11. Learn more here.
The Senate passed H.R. 5771 Tuesday night (12/19/2014)
H.R. 5771 will retroactively reinstate more than 50 tax extenders including one for IRA rollovers, one for gifts of excess food inventories and the conservation easement provision, under which private landowners forgo their development rights of the land in exchange for a tax deduction. Read More »
Congress fails to pass the Supporting America's Charities Act (12/17/2014)
The act would have made permanent the incentive for donations of conservation easements. Needing 67% of the vote to pass, it narrowly failed with 65$. Learn more here.
Senate Passes Increase in Duck Stamp Price (12/08/2014)
In a piece of important conservation legislation, Congress increased the price of duck stamps from $15 to $25. It was the first such increase since 1991. Read more here.
Lemhi Salmon Recovery: Private Landowners take the Lead (11/20/2014)
Life on the Range highlights the work done by Lemhi Valley ranchers to improve the area's watershed, which resulted in the largest run of Chinook salmon in the river since 1960. Read our latest blog post and watch the video ».
Cover Crop Survey Report Documents Yield Boost, Soil Benefits and Ag Retailer Roles (11/18/2014)
For the second year in a row, a national survey of farmers has documented a yield boost from the use of cover crops in corn and soybeans, as well as a wide variety of other benefits. It also details the challenges and benefits farmers expect from cover crops, data on the costs of seed and establishment, and insight into how farmers learn to manage cover crops. Read the news release and Cover Crop Survey Report.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Protects Gunnison Sage-Grouse as Threatened Under Endangered Species Act (11/17/2014)
The Service has determined that the Gunnison sage-grouse, a ground-dwelling bird found only in southwestern Colorado and southeastern Utah, requires the protection of the Endangered Species Act as a threatened species. Read the press release here.
USDA Seeks Comments on New Conservation Stewardship Rule (11/05/2014)
As the U.S. Department of Agriculture's rapid implementation of the 2014 Farm Bill continues, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced proposed changes to the Conservation Stewardship Program, one of USDA's largest conservation programs for working agricultural lands. Read the full story here.
USDA Announces New Partnership with National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to Support Ongoing Fulf Restoration (10/30/2014)
"This new partnership with NFWF leverages significant funding for restoration in these Gulf States. In addition to our many Farm Bill conservation programs, partnering with NFWF and private landowners will enable us to continue to make progress in this region and achieve our goals for a healthy Gulf ecosystem," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. Read the full news release here.
2015 Texas Land Conservation Conference (10/24/2014)
Join March 4-6 in Austin for the 2015 Texas Land Conservation Conference. Click here to check back regularly for agenda developments, sponsorship and exhibit announcements, and more!
Deadline Nears for Farm Conservation Assistance (10/23/2014)
In Kansas, the application cutoff date for Environmental Quality Incentives Program funding in fiscal 2015 is Nov. 21. Learn more here.
Idaho EQIP Funding Deadline November 21 (10/23/2014)
Application deadlines for fiscal year 2015 Environmental Quality Incentive Program funding are now being announced across the country. Idaho's is November 21. Learn more about Idaho EQIP here.
USDA Unveils Key New Programs to Help Farmers Manage Risk (09/29/2014)
USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack today unveiled highly anticipated new programs to help farmers better manage risk, ushering in one of the most significant reforms to U.S. farm programs in decades. Learn more here.
House Passes Bill to Stop EPA Enforcement of CWA Rule (09/10/2014)
H.R. 5078 or "Waters of the United States Regulatory Overreach Protection Act of 2014" was passed by the House 262-152. This bill will prevent enforcement of the recently passed EPA Rule clarifying what waters of the U.S. are and what farmers and ranchers need to do to protect water resources.
USDA Media Advisory (09/08/2014)
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to host media call to make major announcement on conservation funding to protect and restore key farmlands, grasslands and wetlands. View conference call details here.
Louisiana Conservation Connection Now Available (09/05/2014)
Our Louisiana Conservation Connection officially was unveiled Thursday, September 4 by RFF President Amos Eno at the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission's monthly meeting. See the full press release here.
Resistant Weeds? Pulverize the Seeds (08/25/2014)
Herbicide-resistant weeds have been invading farmland across the U.S. in recent years, most notably palmer amaranth in the South and Midwest. This superweed is a result of herbicide overuse, which drives resistance because some weeds inevitably have genetic characteristics that thwart the chemicals; the plants then produce similarly robust offspring. But Australia has been dealing with herbicide-resistance for far longer, and a farmer there has built a machine that that could help curb superweeds. His tactic: destroy their seeds before they sprout. Read full article here
Rolling Stones Chuck Leavell Talks Forestry (08/15/2014)
Rolling Stones panist Chuck Leavell talks to the WSJ about 70% of his 3,000 acres is used to grow and harvest trees. He's "always had a special feeling for wood and how different kinds affect the sounds of musical instruments. Trees and songs have an interesting correlation. Both are built to last, both have external texture and internal patterns, and no two are alike, which is sort of miraculous when you think about it." Read more here.
A Rancher's Perspective on Sage Grouse Conservation (08/12/2014)
Two weeks ago RFF wrote about the work Terry Messmer is doing to conserve sage grouse and sagebrush-steppe habitat with private landowners in Utah. This week we spoke with one of those ranchers, Jay Tanner of Grouse Creek. Read RFF's discussion with Tanner on our blog.
House Passes Endangered Species Transparency Act (07/30/2014)
The House passed HR 4315 "The Endangered Species Transparency Act" to increase federal reporting requirements when listing species as threatened or endangered. Under the Act, the government must make public all data it uses when listing a species, how much it spends on litigation costs, and caps hourly fees lawyers can collect for challenging ESA listings. Read More Here.
House Votes for Permanent Easement Incentive (07/17/2014)
The House passed by a bipartisan vote of 277-130 H.R. 4719 - "The America Gives More Act," will make an enhanced tax incentive for conservation of farmland, rangeland, woodlands and other important open spaces permanent. Read More Here.
USDA Crop Insurance Interim Rule Released (07/09/2014)
The USDA released an Interim Rule for crop insurance reflecting the 2014 Farm Bill conservation compliance and regional sodsaver provisions. For the 2016 reinsurance year, a producer must file an AD-1026 for Highly Erodible Land (HEL) and wetlands; follow a conservation plan on HEL; not convert a wetland for the purposes of farming an annually tilled crop; and not plant an agriculture commodity on a wetland converted after February 7, 2014.
Perpetuity and the Land Ethic (07/07/2014)
Christian Freitag, the Executive Director of the Sycamore Land Trust in Indiana, recently presented on the nature of forever promises associated with conserving land. His moving and thoughtful presentation can be viewed here (Youtube).
New Support for Beginning Farmers and Ranchers (06/27/2014)
USDA's New Farmers website has in depth information for new farmers and ranchers, including: how to increase access to land and capital; build new market opportunities; participate in conservation opportunities; select and use the right risk management tools; and access USDA education, and technical support programs. Click Here to Learn More
New House Leader Good for Agricutlure (06/25/2014)
Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) was elected as House Majority Leader this week. Western Growers see this as a positive step for agriculture because he has provided critical leadership on important industry issues, including Farm Bill provisions for fruit, vegetables, and tree nuts, negotiations for solutions for the water crisis, and immigration. Read more in Western Farm Press.
Farming and Soccer- Comparision by Country! (06/19/2014)
This month the best soccer players from 32 countries will be competing in the 20th FIFA World Cup in Brazil. Modern Farmer takes a look at farming in some of the countries hoping to bring home the golden trophy and does a side by side ranking of their soccer and agricultural prowess! See it here.
Conservation Stewardship Program Sign Up Begins (06/17/2014)
The USDA will begin accepting renewal applications for the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) on July 11. Farmers and ranchers that enrolled in the program in 2010 are eligible to apply. Read more here.
Conservation Reserve Program Sign Up (06/11/2014)
CRP continuous sign up started June 9th. Producers can enroll in 10-15 year contracts or producers with CRP contracts expiring this September can apply for a one-year extension. The new grassland provisions allow producers to graze enrolled land with more flexibility. Learn More Here.
Scenic Hudson's Groundbreaking Foodshed Conservation Plan (06/09/2014)
Scenic Hudson's groundbreaking Foodshed Conservation Plan is a blueprint for ramping up collaborative farmland-protection efforts. It's the first study in the Northeast to develop a comprehensive, data-driven methodology for strategically protecting farmland. By prioritizing unprotected farmland throughout the valley, it enables stakeholders to direct available resources to conserve those clusters of farms that will make the biggest difference in meeting increasing demands for local food. Read full article here.
AFF Infographic: Putting Forests to Work (06/06/2014)
The American Forest Foundation has just released this infographic describing the important role forests play in carbon storage and what can be done to get more out of forests. Click here.
Developments on the Waterway Infrastructure Act (05/27/2014)
Congress passed the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014 in the House (412-4 vote) and Senate (91-7 vote). This Act would improve our country's inland waterway system and streamline the Army Corps of Engineer permitting process to reduce costs and delays of infrastructure projects that are needed to improve the transportation of grains and other goods. Read More Here.
May is Wetlands Month! (05/13/2014)
This month is the 24th anniversary of American Wetlands Month, a time when EPA and its partners in federal, state, tribal, local, non-profit, and private sector organizations celebrate the vital importance of wetlands to the Nation's ecological, economic, and social health. It is also a great opportunity to discover and teach others about the important role that wetlands play in our environment and the significant benefits they provide — improved water quality, increased water storage and supply, reduced flood and storm surge risk, and critical habitat for plants, fish, and wildlife.
'Restoration Returns' Reports the Success of Partners for Fish and Wildlife and Coastal Conservation Programs (04/28/2014)
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released a report analyzing the economic impact of Partners for Fish and Wildlife and Coastal programs. It found that these programs return over $15 for every program dollar put on the ground. Since the programs began 25 years ago, more than 45,000 landowners and 3,000 organizations have completed 29,000 restoration projects resulting in the voluntary restoration of 3,176,000 upland acres, 939,000 wetland acres, and 8,712 riparian miles. To download the report click here.
FDA Withdraws Proposed Restrictions on Spent Grain (04/25/2014)
After receiving comments from brewers and livestock owners that restrictions requiring increased inspection of spent brewers grain before selling or giving it to livestock for feed would result in increased costs for beer, beef, and dairy the FDA withdrew the provision from the Food Safety Modernization Act.
Proposed FSMA Could Prevent Sustainable Brewer- Farmer Grain Use (04/23/2014)
The proposed Food Safety Modernization Act challenges a century-old harmony by placing restrictions on brewers that sell or give used grain to farmers to feed their livestock. Many are speaking up against this provision arguing that the safety requirements would be an overwhelming burden on small and mid-sized farmers that rely on this cheap feed, while not preventing a real risk. Read more here.
Happy Earth Day! (04/22/2014)
Today is Earth Day and the U.S. Forest Service announced that it is seeking proposals that expand wood energy use and support responsible forest management. Also today, the Forest Service released a Wood Energy Financial App for use by community and business leaders seeking to replace fossil fuel with wood energy. Read more here!
Cooperative Extensions Celebrate 100 Years of Rural Education (04/21/2014)
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Smith-Lever Act, which established the university cooperative extension system that has promoted education across rural communities. Throughout April and May, individual states will honor their own extension programs, long-time agents and commitment to research. Read more here.
Wetland Conservation Easement Applications Due May 15 (04/18/2014)
The Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) provides financial and technical assistance to help conserve wetlands under the Wetlands Reserve Easements component. The California NRCS will be accepting applications for WRE until May 15! Read more here.
USDA Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program Applications Due June 12 (04/16/2014)
The USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture will provide over $19 million to organizations that apply for grants to provide education, training, technical assistance and outreach for U.S. farmers, ranchers, and managers of non-industrial private forestland. Apply by June 12!
Sign Up for USDA Disaster Assistance Programs (04/08/2014)
The USDA announced that producers can sign up for disaster assistance programs starting April 15th. Programs available target livestock, honeybees, and fruit growers. Read more here.
New EPA Rules on Clean Water Act Helps Landowners (03/26/2014)
A newly proposed EPA rule clarifying waters of the United States for Clean Water Act purposes preserves agricultural exemptions and exclusions, and exempts an additional 50 conservation practices from CWA permitting. Find out more here.
Celebrate National Agriculture Day (03/25/2014)
Today, March 25th, is National Agriculture Day- a day to celebrate the abundance provided by agriculture. Read more about celebrations taking place in your community here.
FLA is Accepting Nominations for its Awards Program (03/19/2014)
The Forest Landowners Association Awards Program recognizes outstanding landowners and forestry professionals contributing to the stewardship and sustainability of private forests – and protecting the rights of the families who own them. Nominate someone you think deserves to be honored for Forest Landowner of the Year, Extension Forester of the Year, or Young Forest Landowner of the Year here.
Global Forest Watch: Dynamic New Platform to Protect Forests Worldwide (02/24/2014)
The World Resources Institute (WRI), Google, and a group of more than 40 partners launched Global Forest Watch (GFW), a dynamic online forest monitoring and alert system that empowers people everywhere to better manage forests. For the first time, Global Forest Watch unites the latest satellite technology, open data, and crowdsourcing to guarantee access to timely and reliable information about forests. Read More Here.
This Week is National FFA Week (02/19/2014)
During National FFA Week activities are held to raise awareness about the role the FFA Organization plays in developing the future leaders of the agricultural industry and the importance of agricultural education. It started in 1948 and encompasses George Washington's birthday to remember his legacy as an agriculturalist and farmer. Read More Here.
Olympic Skeleton-Racer Farmer (02/14/2014)
Katie Uhlaender, Team USA’s Skeleton-Racer is also a farmer. In between her training and competition, she raises cattle on her family’s farm in northwestern Kansas. Modern Farmer caught up with Uhlaender by phone from Sochi, Russia before the olympics started. Read more here.
President Signs Farm Bill into Law (02/10/2014)
Friday, February 7th the President signed the Agricultural Act of 2014 into law at Michigan State University's campus. The Farm Bill's investment in risk management and a wide array of programs will create $14.2 billion in jobs and reduce the deficit by $23 billion. Read more here.
Farm Bill Goes To President (02/06/2014)
The Senate approved the farm bill by a vote of 68-32 Feb. 4. The measure passed the U.S. House of Representatives last week. Goes to President Obama for final hurdle. Read More Here.
House-Senate Negotiators Announce Bipartisan Agreement on Final Farm Bill (01/28/2014)
"House and Senate agriculture leaders announced a bipartisan, bicameral agreement on a five-year farm bill that will reduce the deficit, grow the economy and provide certainty to the 16 million Americans whose jobs depend on agriculture. The Agricultural Act of 2014 contains major reforms, including eliminating the direct payments program, streamlining and consolidating numerous programs to improve their effectiveness and reduce duplication, and cutting down on program misuse. The bill also strengthens our nation's commitment to support farmers and ranchers affected by natural disasters or significant economic losses; and renews a national commitment to protect land, water, and other natural resources." Read More Here.
Secretary Jewell & USFS Director Ashe Announce $16.5 Million in Grants to Conserve Coastal Wetlands (01/24/2014)
On January 23, 2014, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe annouced $16.5 million in grants to support 21 critical coastal wetland projects in 12 states and Puerto Rico under the National Coastal Grants Wetlands Conservation Grants Program. Read more from the Department of the Interior.
New Farm Bill Might Cut CRP acres (01/22/2014)
Senator John Thune (R- S.D.) stated that the Conservation Reserve Program will likely take a major hit in the new Farm Bill. The proposal caps the amount of acres allowed to be enrolled nationwide to 24 million, which is down from 32 million in the 2008 Farm Bill. Read More Here.
No Decisons on Farm Bill, But Funding Available for Programs (01/10/2014)
House Agriculture Committee Chairman Lucas conceded that final action on a Farm Bill conference report is now likely to slip into late January. However, the government still is taking applications for popular grant programs that will most likely receive funding in 2014: REAP, EQIP, CSP and VAPG.
Polar Vortex Threatens Agriculture, Livestock and More! (01/07/2014)
Freezing weather across the U.S. will damage crops from winter wheat to oranges and is threatening livestock, sending cattle futures to an all-time high. Hard-freeze warnings and watches stretch from Texas to central Florida, and 90 percent of the contiguous U.S. will be at or below the freezing mark. Read More Here.
Top Ag Stories of 2013 in Maps (01/03/2014)
A Modern Farmer article explains the 10 Top Food and Agriculture Stories in 2013 through a series of maps. Read More Here.
A Handful of Dust: Ranching Documentary (12/30/2013)
Once considered a fixture of the American West, ranching may not make it to the next generation. "A Handful of Dust" is a developing still and motion picture documentary about the future of ranching in America. The movie will be released in 2014, outlining the increasing grazing fees, competition with recreation and energy exploration, expanding agriculture, and water rights. Read More Here.
Ryan-Murray Budget Agreement Contains NRCS User Fee (12/18/2013)
While the Ryan-Murray budget agreement avoids government shutdown and replaces sequestration, it imposes an NRCS technical assistance user fee on landowners. This fee, which would cost landowners about $150 for implementing conservation management plans, can be waived. However, the NACD argues that the administrative costs associated with administering waivers would far outweigh the savings from the fee. Read the NACD's statement here.
A Farm Bill Will Grow Our Economy While Protecting the Environment (12/13/2013)
Congress passed an extension of the current Farm Bill after the committee recognized they will not be able to reach a consensus in time for the Dec. 31st deadline. According to a recent study, a comprehensive Food, Farm and Jobs Bill is essential for the conservation of working landscapes that provide natural resource protection, recreation, and the food, energy, and fiber our country relies on. Read More Here.
Applications for Conservation Stewardship Program Due Jan. 17 (12/10/2013)
The NRCS has opened the CSP for new enrollments for 2014. The CSP is a Farm Bill conservation program that helps established conservation stewards take their natural resource management to the next level by granting higher payments for higher performance. The program helps producers improve both their agricultural production and conservation benefits, such as cleaner and more abundant water, healthier soils, and better wildlife habitat. Learn more about CSP by visiting the NRCS website or a local NRCS field office and apply by Jan. 17!
Introducing the TomTato (11/22/2013)
It's not a genetically modified plant, but a result of good old fashion grafting. The TomTato grows cherry tomatoes on top and potatoes on the bottom, resulting in a steady stream of tomatoes all summer and potatoes ready to harvest in the fall. Read more here!
Farm Bill Update (11/20/2013)
Negotiations between the House and Senate Ag Committees continues and it has been reported that they are making progress. Many are crossing their fingers as the current Farm Bill extensions will expire December 31. Some of the provisions being negotiated include: crop insurance (with or without conservation compliance), SNAP (or food stamps), whether to make the bill permanent law, and changes to the diary program. Read more here.
EPA Proposes Reduction in RFS (11/19/2013)
The EPA has issued a proposed rule that would reduce the volume requirements and percentage standards of renewable fuel in cellulosic biofuel, biomass-based diesel, advanced biofuel, and total renewable fuel. Read more here.
Home Grown by Heroes becomes a National Program (11/13/2013)
The Kentucky Home Grown by Heroes initiative identifies farm products produced by veterans. This week, it was announced that the Farmer Veteran Coalition will administer the program on the national level. “The veterans we work with have served their country twice — once by defending it, and now by feeding it,” said Michael O’Gorman, executive director of the Farmer Veteran Coalition. “When Kentucky became the first state to honor them for that service in the marketplace, we were anxious to see every farmer veteran in America get that same recognition.” Read More Here.
"Farmland" Documentary Exposes the 21st Century Farmer (11/04/2013)
Oscar-winning James Moll turns his cameras on the lives of 21st century agrarians in his latest feature "Farmland." This documentary exposes a spectrum of young and old farmers who are using technology to battle a wavering economy and fragile environment to keep America's most vital resources alive. Moll produced the film with support from the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance. Watch the Trailer Here!
USDA is Distributing Payments Again (10/30/2013)
The USDA has started distribution of land conservation and other program payments after being delayed due to the government shutdown. CRP and ACRE payments were released last week. As such, farmers and rural landowners across the country will receive payments on almost 700,000 Conservation Reserve Program contracts on 390,000 farms covering 26.8 million acres.
October is National Energy Action Month (10/21/2013)
This month is National Energy Action Month, a month dedicated to building on the progress we have made by recommitting to increasing our energy security, strengthening our economy, combatting climate change, and improving the environment. While we have made significant progress, more work remains. To transition to a secure energy future, we must increase our production of clean energy, minimize waste and maximize efficiency, further reduce our oil imports, eliminate inefficient fossil fuel subsidies, and continue to develop more energy sources here at home. Read the Presidential Proclamation here.
Government Offices Are Up and Running Again (10/17/2013)
NRCS offices across the U.S. are available to help farmers and ranchers with whole-farm conservation planning and technical assistance. In addition, the Oct. 16, 2013, Continuing Resolution provides funding for several Farm Bill conservation programs, including the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). For more information, and to find the right conservation assistance for your farm or ranch, contact your local USDA Service Center or visit www.nrcs.usda.gov
Disaster in South Dakota Further Highlights Need for Farm Bill (10/10/2013)
It is estimated that five-percent of the herd in the western part of South Dakota may have been lost in a record-breaking storm that dumped four-feet of snow on the area. If that estimate holds – that would mean 75-thousand dead cattle. Many cattlemen are worried that without a Farm Bill and uncertain progress on agricultural programs, they will not have the safety net they need to recover from this and other livestock disasters. Read more here.
Should the Farm Bill be Included in a Broader Budget Package? (10/08/2013)
In a letter to House Speaker John Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid suggested that the farm bill be included in a much larger government package. American Farm Bureau Federation lobbyist Mary Kay Thatcher said she was heartened by Reid's statements. "It appears likely that the farm bill may not be able to pass as a stand-alone bill, so if Majority Leader Reid believes we can get a good bill that combines nutrition and agriculture into one package and can pass by adding it to other bills, that is good news. The sooner we can pass the farm bill, the better..." Read More Here.
USDA, NRCS and Conservation Districts Closed Until Further Notice (10/02/2013)
Due to the government shutdown, government offices including the USDA, NRCS and Conservation Districts will be closed until the government reaches an agreement on the federal budget. Furthermore, long term funding for conservation and agricultural programs through these offices remain in limbo as the House and Senate work on producing a new farm bill. Read More Here
PERC Case Study: Park agencies should partner with private companies in land conservation (09/30/2013)
In a PERC Case Study, Warren Meyer explores a radically different model for operating public parks—one in which park agencies partner with private companies to substantially reduce costs while providing more accountability and customer service. Although both parks are similar, the state-operated Red Rocks Park costs more than twice as much to operate as the privately operated Crescent Moon Ranch, which remains fully maintained and generates a return for the U.S. Forest Service. See more here.
House Passes Food Stamp Cuts Impacting the Future of the Farm Bill (09/23/2013)
House passes food stamp cuts by vote of 217-210. By passing a separate nutrition bill, the House and Senate will have to work to reconcile the differences between the House and Senate farm bills in order for a farm bill to be passed. Read More.
Organically Grown in Oregon Week (Sept 15-21) (09/17/2013)
At one time, organic agriculture may have been considered by some to be a fringe sector of the industry with a narrowly-focused market base. That simply isn’t the case anymore as organic foods are a mainstream consumer item that continues to rise in popularity. Governor Kitzhaber has proclaimed September 15-21 to be Organically Grown in Oregon Week, another indicator that organic agriculture is something to celebrate. Read More.
U.S. Forest Service to Announce New Ecological Restoration Policy (09/12/2013)
This week the USFS will announce that it is formalizing its ecological restoration policy to provide direction for restoring our National Forests and Grasslands. The policy will provide clear, comprehensive and science-based guidance on how to restore lands to ensure they provide clean water, wildlife habitat, recreation, and economic opportunities for local communities. Read More Here
Cattle Ranchers Cope with Losses from Rim Fire (09/04/2013)
With the Rim Fire still burning, Tuolumne County farmers, ranchers and loggers now focus on gathering cattle, harvesting crops and protecting timber, while repairing damage to their operations. The wildfire, one of the largest in state history, destroyed grazing land, killed livestock, consumed private timber and damaged essential infrastructure. Read More and find out ways to help
World Water Week (09/03/2013)
Over 2,500 politicians, business leaders, innovators, thought leaders and practitioners are gathering in Stockholm for the 23rd World Water Week this week, where they will work together to build vital partnerships, advance existing cooperation over water and find solutions to the world’s most pressing water challenges. In over 100 seminars, workshops and events spread throughout the week, participants will meet under the theme “Water Cooperation – Building Partnerships”. They will be encouraged to think out of the “water box” and come up with innovative ways to move toward a water wise future where water is managed equitably and sustainably. Visit the Event Website
Emergency Haying and Grazing on CRP Land Peaked in 2012 (08/27/2013)
USDA’s Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) engages farmers in long-term (10- to 15-year) contracts to establish conservation covers on environmentally sensitive land. An important provision within CRP is that in times of drought, farmers and ranchers can utilize their CRP lands for emergency haying and grazing. During 2012, farmers conducted emergency haying and grazing on almost 2.8 million acres, which is over 1.5 million acres more than what was allowed in 2011. Read More.
2012 Sage-Grouse Report Released (08/21/2013)
The NRCS has recently reported that over 700 ranchers have enrolled 2.5 million acres to benefit the sage-grouse. NRCS has invested $145 million while partners matched $70 million to assist ranchers to implement critical conservation measures. Read the report here.
Will Water Be the Commodity Gold of the 21st Century Market? (08/13/2013)
Many, such as billionaire T. Boone Pickens
, are predicting that water will become a premiere market good. This is due to the fact that the US water supply is deteriorating, piping and transporting water is not thought to be effective, and the water table is rapidly dropping in many areas. Will water become a commodity more effectively traded on the open market than carbon? Read More Here.
EPA Announces 2013 RFS2 Final Rulemaking (08/12/2013)
The EPA has announced the final rules for the Renewable Fuel Standard, which reduces the cellulosic mandate and extends the compliance period. Read More here.
This Week is National Farmers Market Week (08/05/2013)
Farmers markets are an important public face for agriculture and a critical part of our nation's food system. They provide a direct marketing opportunity for farmers and supplement consumer's demand for fresh, healthy foods. Support your community farmers market this week and celebrate your community. Use the USDA's Farmer's Market Directory
to find a market near you! Read More
Acres Enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program Declines (07/30/2013)
The USDA/NRCS announced that 1.7 million acres will be enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) this year, however contracts for 3.3 million acres will expire in October. With only 25 million acres enrolled for the year, this marks one of the smallest amounts of lands preserved under the program in 25 years. Many speculate that private landowners are not enrolling in the program because of record high commodity prices. Read More.
House and Senate Take Steps to Formal Conference on Farm Bill (07/19/2013)
The Senate and House Agriculture Committees began discussions on the Farm Bill and steps were taken to request a formal conference. Due to a motion by Stabenow, SNAP is a qualified subject for the House and Senate conference. Read More.
House Narrowly Passes Farm Bill (07/12/2013)
The House narrowly passed (216-208) a pared-back farm bill after Republican leaders stripped out the nutrition title (SNAP) to win back conservative votes. The bill contains significant reforms, including the termination of direct cash payments to producers. But the commodity title goes much further than the Senate in using government-set target prices as a safety net for farmers. Read More Here.
USDA, Interior and Defense Departments Partner to Benefit Agricultural Lands, Wildlife Habitat and Military Readiness (07/10/2013)
Through the Sentinel Landscapes partnership, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), U.S. Department of the Interior (Interior) and Department of Defense (DoD) will work together in overlapping priority areas near military installations to help farmers and ranchers make improvements to the land that benefit their operation, enhance wildlife habitat, and enable DoD's training missions to continue. Read More.
Apply for the 2014 Conservation Legacy Awards (07/01/2013)
The Conservation Legacy Awards honor farmers that have implemented outstanding environmental and conservation practices on their land, while continuing to keep their farms profitable. The deadline to apply is August 5, 2013. Read more about the awards here.
Senate Passage of Immigration Bill ‘Good News’ Says Vilsack (06/28/2013)
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack issued the following statement on the Senate passage of the Immigration Bill: “Today’s strong bipartisan vote in the U.S. Senate to fix America’s broken immigration system is good news for farmers and ranchers, good news for farm workers, and good news for rural America. The Senate plan would ensure the stable agricultural workforce that U.S. producers need in order to remain competitive with other nations and maintain our abundant, affordable food supply. For millions of farm workers who today live in the shadows, it will provide an appropriate opportunity to earn legal status by contributing to America’s agricultural economy. In addition to being a strongly pro-agriculture bill, the Senate plan would grow the U.S. economy, strengthen the Social Security system and reduce our deficit. Following today’s strong bipartisan vote by the Senate, the House of Representatives must continue the momentum toward passage of comprehensive immigration reform as soon as possible.” See Fence Post Update
House Farm Bill Fails (06/21/2013)
The House Farm Bill (FARRM) failed by a vote of 234- 195 Thursday. The failure of the House to pass a farm bill means an uncertain future for farm policy. Some say that the hopeful start was quashed in part by a food stamp amendment that would have given states the ability to impose more requirements on food stamp recipients. Read more here.
Farm Bill Passed by Senate (06/12/2013)
Monday, the Senate passed the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2013 (S. 954), also known as the farm bill. The bill will cost nearly $955 billion over the next ten years, which is a $2.4 billion a year cut from current spending levels. Click Here.
Funding Available for WRP and GRP (05/30/2013)
Landowners are encouraged to apply to the Wetland Reserve Program and Grassland Reserve Program to receive funding to restore wetlands and grasslands on their land. Deadlines vary by state, but the sooner you apply the more likely you will be able to receive funds to initiate valuable conservation practices! Click here
to read more.
Farm Bill Update (May) (05/22/2013)
Both the Senate and House Agricultural Committees have approved versions of the Farm Bill. Debate over these bills will likely focus on direct payments, crop insurance, SNAP funding, and dairy, sugar, organic and tobacco policies. Click Here
to read more.
Shop for Conservation (05/09/2013)
Robin Schiele, a dedicated conservationist and talented painter of exotic birds has generously agreed to donate 20% of the sale of his paintings to help support our conservation efforts. Visit Resources First Foundation's Shop for Conservation Art Sale
and put a life-size original watercolor of an endangered, endemic or rare bird from the Neotropical forests of Central America on a wall in your home or office.
NRCS Conservation Stewardship Program Applications Due by May 31 (05/01/2013)
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today annouced that the Natural Resources Conservation Service's Conservation Stewarship Program will provide nearly $175 million in funding for up to 12.6 million additional acres of enrollment this year. Read More
Farm Bill To Be Debated in May (04/26/2013)
Both the House and Senate plan to markup the 2013 Farm Bill in May. Read more.
Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack's Statement on President's 2014 Budget Proposal (04/24/2013)
to read the statement by Secretary of Agriculture Thomas J. Vilsack before the Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Committee on Appropriations, U.S. House of Representatives, regarding the President's 2014 Budget proposal.
The Senate Begins Debate on Immigration (04/23/2013)The agricultural portion of the immigration legislation introduced in the Senate last week includes two critical principles: a "Blue Card" program for experienced workers, and establishment of an agricultural visa program for future guestworkers. Read more here.
Looking to buy or sell conservation land in Texas? Visit King Land & Water - Protecting Clients, Conserving the Land. (04/18/2013)
We are pleased to announce our listing of King Land & Water LLC as PLN's preferred provider of conservation real estate in Texas. King Land & Water has an unmatched history of connecting individuals and charitable organizations with ranches and other conservation properties that perfectly suit their ideals and aspirations.
Find out more about King Land & Water here
Maryland Passes Innovative Forest Cover Law (04/17/2013)
On April 5th the Maryland General Assembly passed the Forest Preservation Act of 2013; HB 706, stating Maryland will have to maintain its current 40% of the state covered by tree canopy. The “no net forest loss” is a first in the nation providing a pathway for Maryland’s future tree and forest resources. Read More Here
Senators Gillibrand and Collins to Introduce Bill to Reform Dairy Pricing (04/03/2013)
Sen. Gillibrand (D-NY) and Sen. Collins (R-ME) are introducing the Dairy Pricing Reform Act to set a higher floor for the Farm Bill's proposed dairy margin insurance. Click Here
to read more.
Rep. Paul Gosar Introduces Catastrophic Wildfire Prevention Act of 2013 (03/27/2013)
The proposed Catastrophic Wildfire Prevention Act of 2013 is legislation that would renew and reform the government’s ability to partner with private industry to implement thinning and ecological restoration projects, streamline the bureaucratic review process, and allow the Forest Service to partner with State Foresters to treat national forest land. Read More.
Proposal to Make the Enhanced Conservation Easement Tax Incentive Permanent (03/19/2013)
Senate Bill 526 has been proposed to make the enhanced conservation easement tax incentive permanent and prohibit charitable deductions for the donation of conservation easements on golf courses.Click Here
to read more.
Resources First Foundation to launch Louisiana Conservation Connection (03/11/2013)Yarmouth, ME – March 7, 2013
- With state and federal budget cuts potentially impacting conservation programs nationwide, Resources First Foundation (RFF), is preparing to launch the Louisiana Conservation Connection in December to further bottomland hardwood conservation in the Delta and private stewardship initiatives throughout Louisiana. Read More
Farmers Gauge Impact of Sequestration (03/06/2013)
With U.S. Congress and the Obama administration unable to prevent the March 1 trigger of automatic spending cuts to the federal budget, known as sequestration, agency officials must now decide where the cuts should be made, the effects of which aren't likely to become apparent until the end of the month. Read More Here
Introduced: the Farm Program Integrity Act (02/28/2013)
Proposed legislation entitled the Farm Program Integrity Act
would place a hard cap on farm program payments and close current loopholes to ensure payments go to working farmers. Due to current program eligibility loopholes, mega-farms and absentee investors can currently receive a virtually unlimited government check through farm programs. Read More.
Agricultural Census Deadline Extended (02/25/2013)
The US Department of Agriculture census was due on February 4, however those who have not responded will be sent another copy and are encouraged to get counted. “Accurate and comprehensive information from
all farmers and ranchers is important so that the census can provide a true picture of U.S. agriculture
today and help everyone plan appropriately for future,” said Vilsack.
The proposed American Family Economic Protection Act could end sequestration (02/15/2013)
Senate Democrats introduced the American Family Economic Protection Act
in an effort to end sequestration. Expected to be debated the week of February 25, the proposal would save $27.5 billion over 10 years by cutting farm subsidies and extending certain farm bill programs that were left out of the recent farm bill extension. Additionally, it would provide an additional $3.5 billion to extend disaster assistance, renewable energy, rural development, conservation, hunger prevention, agriculture research, organic certification, and specialty crop programs. Read More.
USDA Reports Consider Climate Change Impacts on Agriculture and Forestry (02/14/2013)
The USDA has issued two reports that analyze the effect of changing climate on agriculture and forestry. Included is a consideration on shifting weather patterns and crop's ability to adapt, pest control with warmer winters, and fire hazards. Click here.
Pending US Supreme Court Case: Are timber, farm culverts point sources under the CWA? (02/11/2013)
A case pending before the US Supreme Court debates whether logging and agricultural culverts are point sources under the Clean Water Act, which would require these operations obtain NPDES permits. The EPA addressed this by issuing a regulation that would allow the EPA to consider each farm or timberland separately. Read More.
Superbowl Commercial Highlights our Country's Farmers (02/05/2013)
A 2013 Superbowl commercial quoted Paul Harvey's emotive speech on the importance and revere of the family farmer. Listen to Harvey's 'Farmers Tribute: So God Made A Farmer' here
Beginning Farmers In Decline (02/01/2013)For more than two decades, the share of farms operated by beginning farmers has been in decline. Beginning farms and ranches accounted for 22 percent of the nation’s 2 million family farms and ranches in 2011 – down from about 38 percent in 1982. Consistent with this trend, the average age of principal farm operators in the United States has risen in that period, from 50 to 58. Read More!
Roby Introduces Bill to Tighten Conservation Reserve Program (01/29/2013)
Rep. Martha Roby introduced H.R. 349- Preserving Marginal Lands and Protecting Farming Act-
which would allow more farmland to be used for production, rather than laying dormant through the CRP. The bill restricts the practice of paying landowners to idle cropland, specifically land that is high-quality and highly productive. Click here.
Reid Introduces Placeholder Farm Bill (01/23/2013)
Senate Majority leader Harry Reid introduced a placeholder farm bill, which will hopefully be replaced by an updated version of the Farm Bill that was passed by the Senate in June 2012. Read More.
American Farm Bureau Federation Outlines Hopes for New Farm Bill (01/18/2013)At their annual meeting, AFB delegates voiced support for a bipartisan, reform-minded farm bill, crafted around broad, flexible, crop-insurance-based program, including risk-management protection for peanuts, rice, forage and specialty crops. Read More.
President Signs American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 into Law (01/04/2013)
For a summary of the provisions included in the Act, and left out, that concern agriculture click here
Congress Approves Extension of 2008 Farm Bill for 9 Months (01/02/2013)
Both the House and Senate have approved extending provisions of the 2008 Farm Bill until the end of the fiscal year. Included in fiscal cliff legislation, this extension will avoid a dramatic increase in milk prices. (For an overview of the fiscal cliff legislation click here
.) However, many argue that the "deal is blatantly anti-reform" and that many smaller programs that fund rural jobs were left out completely. Read More
. The general consensus seems to be that "while the extension is certainly preferable to the alternative of no bill at all, and prevents outdated permanent agricultural law enacted in the 1930s and 1940s from going into effect, it is only a stopgap measure, which does not provide the long-term certainty and stability that farmers need." Read More
Report to the President on Agricultural Preparedness & the Agriculture Research Enterprise (12/20/2012)
At a public meeting at the White House, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) released a report entitled, “Report to the President on Agricultural Preparedness & the Agriculture Research Enterprise.”
The report concludes that the United States is the undisputed world leader in agricultural production today, but also cautions that US agriculture faces a number of challenges that are poised to become much more serious in the years ahead. The report prioritizes the top seven scientific challenges facing agriculture: the need to manage new pests, pathogens, and invasive plants; increase the efficiency of water use; reduce the environmental footprint of agriculture; adapt to a changing climate; and accommodate demands for bioenergy.
Wetlands reserve program marks 20 Years of wetlands conservation (12/17/2012)
In its two decades of existence, USDA’s Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) has restored more than 2.6 million acres of wetlands habitat across the U.S., creating prime wildlife habitat and cleaner water.
USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) administers the voluntary program that works with landowners to protect, restore and enhance wetlands on private and tribal lands, a mission that helps rural and urban communities throughout the country by reducing flood damage, contributing to groundwater recharge and carbon sequestration, and providing recreational opportunities. Seventy-five percent of wetlands in the U.S. are located on private lands. Read more »
USDA Drought Assistance Helps Improve Over One Million Acres (11/07/2012)
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and NRCS have made more than $27 million available for drought-stricken farmers and ranchers to invest in conservation projects on their land.
Over 2,000 producers from 22 states have applied these conservation dollars to revitalize their property and to improve its drought resiliency in the years to come. These conservation practices are actively building healthier soil and will lead to better harvests for one million acres of American farmland.
For more information about this program and others, visit the resources below:
The Walton Family Foundation Sustainable Water Markets Fellowship Program is now accepting applications (09/18/2012)
The Bren School of Environmental Science & Management at the University of California, Santa Barbara is now accepting applications for their new Walton Family Foundation Sustainable Water Markets Fellowship Program. This program offers a rich education in science, economics, policy, business and law, augmented by specialized training in innovative approaches to sustainable water resources management and conservation planning. Fellows will receive career-oriented training, including preparation in collaborative problem solving and development of leadership and project management skills.
The Sustainable Water Markets Fellowship program provides full and partial fellowship support for up to four highly qualified students who are pursuing a two-year Master of Environmental Science & Management (MESM) degree with a specialization in Water Resources Management, including water policy and environmental markets, Conservation Planning, Economics and Politics of the Environment, Pollution Prevention & Remediation, and/or Energy and Climate. Additionally, two partial or full fellowships will be awarded to outstanding applicants for the PhD program at the Bren School, who demonstrate a commitment to basic research in water resources management, including water policy and market-based water management, conservation planning, economics and politics of the environment, pollution prevention and remediation and/or energy and climate.
Looking for the Faces of Farming & Ranching! (08/16/2012)
The US Farmers & Ranchers Alliance (USFRA) is looking for the “Faces of Farming & Ranching” to help put a real face and even a "heart" on agriculture. USFRA is kicking off a nationwide search of farmers and ranchers who can serve as the Faces of Farming and Ranching for a number of various national media, influencer and other public-facing opportunities. DEADLINE for submissions: September 8, 2012.
When it comes to today's agriculture, there are many examples of great farmers and ranchers all over the country doing wonderful things to bring food to the table for those around the world. But few of those farmers and ranchers are recognizable by consumers, mainstream media and influencers. In fact, the pictures and perceptions of farmers and ranchers often don’t match reality – USFRA wants to change that.
USFRA has started a movement to bring more farmers and ranchers together to answer people's questions about how their food is grown and raised. Many voices are leading conversations about food -- and often leaving the people who grow and raise our food out. We need a national face to be part of these conversations and represent the real farmers and ranchers of America.
Winners will have amazing opportunities to share their knowledge and experiences with national media, influencers and the general public. Plus, you’ll receive:
A $10,000 Stipend – to limit the burden of time away from the farm (no more than 30 days over the course of 2013)
A $5,000 Charitable Donation – to give to a local or ag-related charity of your choice
Professional Media/Speaker Training – to help you effectively tell your story to any audience
Find the full details below and read the official rules here
Ecologically Responsible Longleaf Pinestraw Production: Webinar August 10, 2012: (07/24/2012)
The harvesting and marketing of pinestraw has become extremely lucrative across much of the southeast. Longleaf is regarded as the king of all North American pines in regards to the quality of its pinestraw. Some longleaf plantations are commercially viable as early as seven years post planting. Tragically, most landowners are under the impression that they must remove all native ground cover to harvest pinestraw. This webinar will examine the ecological costs and the economic benefits of raking pinestraw with various techniques. Learn how some landowners and land managers have been able to keep their native groundcover while raking in excess of $100.00 an acre annually.
Who should participate? Foresters, Landowners, Land Managers, Natural Resource Professionals, Pinestraw Producers
Presenters/Authors: Mark Hainds, The Longleaf Alliance
To learn more or participate, click here.
Online mapping and spatial resources for the private forest landowner - free webinar online (07/09/2012)
July 20, 11am to 12pm CDT
There is growing interest among private landowners to diversify the benefits from their property through multiple use management. However, small-scale private landowners often have limited information regarding how to plan for management of these benefits. A map is one of the most important tools a rural or urban forest landowner needs for planning and management especially when planning for multiple uses. A project was started in 2011 to compile outreach information and examples of online mapping and spatial resources that can be used by landowners and forest land managers, such as consulting foresters and wildlife biologists, to help them maximize benefits of planning and evaluation of multiple use management on small-scale forests with limited or no capital outlay. The information is organized in a booklet tutorial with examples of online spatial resources to help landowners and conservation professionals make maps and utilize aerial photography, topographic layers, soils information, data collected with GPS units, and even visual simulations for an area of interest (timber stand, agriculture field, pasture, etc.). The booklet is designed for beginners and provides keywords, homepage links, tutorial information, examples, and screenshots for online programs like the USDA/NRCS Web Soil Survey, Google Earth, Alabama Historic Aerial Photo Archive, USDA/NRCS Geospatial Data Gateway, and USDA National Agroforestry Center CanVIS. This webinar will focus on the booklet and provide an overview of the programs and example products.
Who should participate? Foresters, Landowners, Land Managers, Natural Resource Professionals
John Gilbert, Auburn University, School of Forestry & Wildlife Sciences, Longleaf Pine Stand Dynamics Laboratory
Organized by: Organized By: NC State University Extension Forestry, Southern Region Extension Forestry, Texas Agrilife Extension.
To participate, go to www.forestrywebinars.net on the day of the webinar and follow the instructions.
Working Lands for Wildlife (06/23/2012)
Working Lands for Wildlife is a new partnership between the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to use agency technical expertise combined with $33 million in financial assistance from the Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program to combat the decline of seven specific wildlife species whose decline can be reversed and will benefit other species with similar habitat needs.
Through Working Lands for Wildlife landowners can voluntarily participate in incentive-based efforts to:
Restore populations of declining wildlife species.
Get regulatory certainty that the conservation investments farmers, ranchers, and forest managers make today will help sustain their operations over the long term.
Strengthen and sustain rural economies by restoring and protecting the productive capacity of working lands.
Species Selection Criteria
The Working Lands for Wildlife project (PDF, 2.8 PDF) will target species whose decline can be reversed and will benefit other species with similar habitat needs.
Seven species were identified during a collaborative process with partners for inclusion in the project: Lesser Prairie Chicken
New England Cottontail
Southwestern Willow flycatcher
How grazing can be a tool in restoring California's grasslands and pollinators (06/19/2012)
In 2009, a group of California Rangeland Conservation Coalition signatories teamed up with a Glenn County cattle rancher to encourage native wildflowers and bees. To date, about four acres of wildflowers have been established on two different ranches in Glenn County. There are plans underway for several other voluntary projects that will provide foraging ground for thousands of native pollinators in the future. Click here for more info.
RIVER GATOR - great new resource for exploring the WILD lower Mississippi River! (06/01/2012)
After 3 decades of exploration, documentation, photography, painting and writing, the first installment of the River Gator Paddler’s Guide to the Lower Mississippi River
is now live. The RIVER GATOR is written for canoeist, kayakers and stand-up-paddleboarders, and anyone else plying the waters of the Lower Mississippi River in human-powered craft.
The Story Behind the New & Improved CREP for the Illinois River in Arkansas (05/04/2012)
Read more about the economic calculations and details behind the USDA's decision
to increase payments under Arkansas's Illinois River Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program
, designed to improve and protect water quality in Northwest Arkansas and Oklahoma.
Free CRP Readiness Workshops Scheduled Nationwide (04/25/2012)
The Conservation Professional Training Program is now offering free training with the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) Readiness Workshops.
Sponsored by NRCS, the purpose of these workshops is to have a fully-trained group of conservation professionals that can create, implement and efficiently manage CRP plans that improve our nation’s natural resources according to NRCS guidelines.
These workshops are targeted for non-government entities, private sector contractors, agriculture and conservation professionals and local and state conservation agency staff – any professional who could provide NRCS with assistance in CRP plans and the CRP sign-up process.
The CRP Readiness Workshops are scheduled through May. Visit the website for more information and a list of workshops in your area.
Wildlife Habitat Restoration on Private Lands Conference will be held May 8-10, 2012 in Conway Arkansas. (04/23/2012)
The purpose of the conference is to offer cross-training about private lands programs, to share landowner success stories, to learn about successful on-the-ground techniques, and to provide updates about farm bill programs as well as other information of relevance to those working with private landowners.
Seating is limited and is provided on a first-come, first-serve basis. Registration closes April 25, 2012. Late registrations will be accepted on-site for these prices: $75 professional rate or $45 student rate, if seats are still available. If you are interested in Arkansas private lands, you'll be interested in the new Arkansas Conservation Center. Please review our site at
Two National Surveys to Help Beekeepers - March 30-April 20, 2012 (03/30/2012)
The Bee Informed Partnership, a joint project among numerous universities and laboratories, is a project whose aim is to help beekeepers make better management decisions and thus reduce colony losses. To do this effectively, we need beekeepers, lots of beekeepers, to participate in the National Winter Loss and Management Survey
. The winter loss survey should take less than 5 minutes and the management survey should take less than 20 minutes. We are asking you to please participate in two surveys. Both surveys are open only from 30 March through 20 April 2012
You can learn more about the Bee Informed Partnership at beeinformed.org. In advance, thank you for your participation.
1 Million Acres of CRP to Benefit Grasslands, Wetlands, Pollinators, and Sensitive Species (03/02/2012)
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the opportunity for producers to enroll a total of 1 million acres of land in a new Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) initiative to preserve grasslands and wetlands.
Rather than wait for a general sign-up (the process under which most CRP acres are enrolled), producers whose land meet eligibility criteria can enroll directly in this "continuous" category at any time.
To encourage producers to sign up their most environmentally valuable acres FSA will increase the Signing Incentive Payments (SIPs) to $150 per acre from the current level of $100 per acre. The incentive is offered on most continuous practices and will include wetland restorations, pollinators and upland bird habitat.
Full press release here.
CRP Readiness Initiative: 20 Free Workshops to Train CRP Consultants (02/29/2012)
CRP Readiness Initiative participants will attend a two-day training workshop, work directly with a project mentor, participate in online forums and webinars, and sign up for supplemental training courses as needed. Upon course completion, participants will understand the processes and procedures necessary to develop national and state NRCS compliant CRP plans.
The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) Readiness Initiative was created to help the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) accomplish the work involved with managing CRP enrollments, CRP plan development and implementation, and the follow up management of developed plans. A national team of Extension staff, NRCS and FSA staff, and representatives from NRCS partner agencies and organizations has collaborated to develop a multi-faceted training program to meet the needs of the initiative.
As more and more baby boomers reach retirement, maintaining workload capacity has become a top priority for private and government sector employers. Recognizing these concerns, the NRCS has sponsored the CRP Readiness Initiative to train a national group of conservation professionals to provide the services associated with CRP planning, implementation, and management. Trained CRP consultants will work directly with landowners and their local NRCS offices to carry out these functions.
NEW PLANT HARDINESS ZONE MAP SHOWS TEMPERATURE SHIFTS (02/09/2012)
The US Dept. of Agriculture has released its first new plant hardiness zone map
in 22 years. The map shows changes of 5 degrees F warmer per half zone through much of the nation since 1990. The new map is based on more data from more weather recording stations. And they were processed by a special mathematical formula that takes into account features of the landscape, such as mountains, large bodies of water, urban areas, which cause sometimes heat islands. And it was recorded over a longer period, thirty rather than fifteen years.
The map also shows where plants would be exposed to severe winter conditions and temperatures. With more than eighty million gardeners in the United States, many of them will use this as a reference as will landscape architects and plant breeders. The USDA Risk Management Agency will use these data for certain crop insurance parameters. One application is being able to forecast the spread of weeds or insects that might endanger agriculture.
The new map is much more accurate than older ones because the use of new computerized technology is more precise than the prior maps, with precision to about a half mile square.
Long Term Benefits of Conservation Are More Important Than Reducing The Deficit (01/30/2012)
The David and Lucile Packard Foundation 2011 Agriculture Survey
of the American public found that Farm Bill conservation programs are important to Americans. Moreover, a majority of Americans do not
favor cutting conservation programs that prevent pollution and other environmental problems because these programs actually save money in the long run.