USDA ANNOUNCES $5 MILLION FOR WETLAND MITIGATION BANKING PROGRAM

Funds will help restore, create, or enhance wetland ecosystems

This funding through the Wetland Mitigation Banking Program is to help conservation partners develop or establish mitigation banks to help agricultural producers maintain eligibility for USDA programs.

“Wetlands are critically important to the health of our natural resources – filtering water, reducing soil loss, and providing habitat to our nation’s wildlife while also helping to sequester carbon from the atmosphere,” said NRCS Chief Matthew Lohr. “Through the Wetland Mitigation Banking Program, we’re working with experienced wetland mitigation partners to give farmers another option to meet Farm Bill requirements.”

Wetland mitigation banking is the restoration, creation, or enhancement of wetlands to compensate for unavoidable impacts on wetlands at other locations. The Farm Bill’s wetland conservation provisions, commonly called Swampbuster provisions, aim to remove certain incentives to convert wetlands or to produce agricultural commodities on converted wetlands.

Producers seeking benefits through most USDA programs must comply with wetland conservation provisions by affirming they will not impact wetlands on their lands. In situations where avoidance or on-site mitigation is challenging, the Farm Bill allows for off-site mitigation through the purchase of mitigation banking credits.

This competitive grants program helps states, local governments, and other qualified partners develop wetland mitigation banks to restore, create, or enhance wetland ecosystems.

Applications must be submitted by July 6, 2020.

SOURCE: https://www.agriculture.com/crops/conservation/usda-announces-5-million-for-wetland-mitigation-banking-program

USDA ANNOUNCES SIGN-UP PERIOD FOR CONSERVATION STEWARDSHIP PROGRAM 

The next deadline for Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) applications to be considered for funding in Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 is May 29, 2020. USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) plans to invest up to $500 million for new enrollments in FY 2020. The 2018 Farm Bill made several changes to this critical conservation program, which helps agricultural producers take the conservation activities on their farm or ranch to the next level.

“CSP continues to be a very effective tool for private landowners working to achieve their conservation and management goals,” said Jeff Zimprich, South Dakota State Conservation, Huron. “It is the largest conservation program in the United States with more than 70 million acres of productive agricultural and forest land enrolled.”

While applications are accepted throughout the year, interested producers should contact their local NRCS field office to discuss how to submit applications by May 29, 2020, to ensure their applications are considered for funding.

To contact the Minnehaha County NRCS field office, call 605-330-4515.

PROFILES IN SOIL HEALTH
The Kruger Family, Milbank, SD

“I think that no-till has given me different opportunities … neighbors after watching me, ten to fifteen years of what I’m doing, have come to me and said, “Hey, we like what you are doing on your ground. We want you to farm ours too, the same way.” – David Kruger

In the first “Profiles In Soil Health” video release of 2020, David Kruger describes his experiences transitioning to no-till, a process he began slowly in 1993. The large variety of soil types present in his fields caused quite a bit of problem solving at the start but as he has gotten more comfortable. David has seen benefits he hadn’t at first considered. He outlines some of the initial reasons he decided to pursue the practice, as well as different benefits and opportunities that have arisen as a result of his now operation-wide management.

Visit https://sdsoilhealthcoalition.org/educational-resources/video/ to view videos from past years.

THE TREE ORDERS ARE ARRIVING!

Good news! Our trees are arriving this week! We will be calling or emailing you when your order is ready to pick up. If you don’t hear anything from us by May 1, give John a call at 605-370-3480 or email info@minnehahacd.org and we’ll get you taken care of!

Spring is here! WOO HOOOO!

WOULD WE ALL STILL HAVE FOOD IF THE POLLINATORS DISAPPEAR?

What do tomatoes, basil, coffee and alfalfa have in common? On the surface, it appears to be very little. However, there is one thing they do share: They all owe their existence to the service of pollinators.

Grocery stores would be rather empty without the hard work of bees, birds, butterflies, bats and other pollinators. One out of every three bites of food we eat or beverages we drink every day are because of pollinators. That’s a whole different range of foods, from fruits to nuts to vegetables. But despite the importance of pollinators, they are taken for granted all too often.

If the pollinators that help provide so much of the food we eat were to vanish, what would we do without them? We would starve. That’s why protecting pollinators is essential to the survival of our daily food supply. Bees, for example, are facing a huge challenge to their survival due to pesticides, parasites, disease and habitat loss. Without bees, we would no longer be able to enjoy our favorite foods if they die out. Examples of bee-pollinated crops include watermelons, cantaloupe, citrus, apples, cucumbers, squash, most berry crops, broccoli, nuts, asparagus and more.

How can you help? Pollinators need food, water, shelter and a safe and healthy environment to live in. Here are some tips for how you can help pollinators in your backyard, schoolyard or community garden.

  1. Plant a pollinator garden with a variety of flowers that bloom from spring to fall.
  2. Provide a source of water set on the ground.
  3. Build bee housing
  4. Minimize the use of pesticides
  5. Get involved by learning more about organizations that support pollinators and their habitats (ex. Pollinator Partnership and Xerces Society)

To honor and thank pollinators for the food that we enjoy every day, NACD is celebrating Stewardship Week (April 26–May 3, 2020) with the theme: Where Would We BEE Without Pollinators? to foster education and awareness.

NACD established Stewardship Week 65 years ago to educate the public on the importance of soil health, water quality, pollinator habitat and other conservation topics. Stewardship Week helps to remind us all of the power each person has to conserve natural resources and improve the world.

How are you planning to celebrate Stewardship Week in your community? Share with us at stewardship@nacdnet.org.

SOURCE: https://www.nacdnet.org/2020/04/10/would-we-still-have-food-if-the-pollinators-disappear/

USDA UNVEILS COVID-19 TOOL

Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) unveiled a one-stop shop of federal programs that are aimed to help rural communities, organizations and individuals impacted by the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.

The COVID-19 Federal Rural Resource Guide is a first-of-its-kind resource for rural leaders looking for federal funding and partnership opportunities to help address this pandemic.

To learn more about this guide and how USDA is taking actions to assist farmers, ranchers, producers, rural communities and rural-based businesses and organizations, visit USDA’s website.

FARMERS’ USE OF PAYCHECK PROTECTION LOAN DEPENDS ON ‘SMALL BUSINESS’ DEFINITION

SOURCE: https://www.no-tillfarmer.com/articles/9596-farmers-use-of-paycheck-protection-loan-depends-on-small-business-definition

Last week we released a Market Intel, What’s in the CARES Act for Food and Agriculture, outlining the provisions of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, Economic Security Act specifically intended for agriculture. This Market Intel delves into provisions of the CARES Act that, depending on how some provisions are interpreted by the Small Business Administration, could potentially provide a lifeline for ag producers.  There are three main SBA programs that are of the most interest to agricultural producers: The Paycheck Protection Program Loan (PPPL), Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and the Emergency EIDL grants.

Signed into law on March 27, the CARES Act provides more than $2 trillion in economic stimulus. It also launched a host of questions about how quickly government agencies could write the rules for the programs included in the legislation. A significant amount of that stimulus was directed toward the SBA, which will oversee $350 billion in dedicated funding to prevent layoffs and business closures while workers have to stay home during the COVID-19 outbreak. SBA has been working feverishly to provide guidance on these programs, but understandably, we’re still awaiting many important details. We know the most about the Paycheck Protection Program Forgivable Loans, which will be the focus of this article. Once additional details are released about the other programs and how they treat production agriculture, we will follow up with Market Intel articles.

Paycheck Protection Program Loans (PPPL)

Tuesday, the SBA and the Treasury Department announced that they have initiated a robust mobilization effort of the PPPL. In a nutshell, the PPPL is designed to help small businesses keep their employees paid through this difficult period. The PPPL provides $349 billion in forgivable loans to small businesses to pay employees and keep them on the payroll. These loans are open to most businesses under 500 employees, including non-profits, the self-employed, startups and cooperatives. While agricultural producers are eligible for the PPPL, it may be less useful to them than originally hoped.

 

BARE ROOT TREE ORDERS

Hopefully everyone is staying healthy! We just wanted to let you know that our bare root tree orders are coming in as planned, and we’ll be contacting you for pick-up times. Please keep an eye on our website and Facebook page for updates. As always, thanks for your business! We appreciate your patience as we get everything figured out in these crazy times!

OUR AMAZING GRASSLANDS
England Ranch, Midland, SD

“Instead of thinking bigger and having a higher debt load, we thought we would stay where we are and think smarter. So we became diversified and more sustainable in our various multi-species operation.” — Suzanne England

2020 Grassland Stewardship Communications Project Partners: South Dakota State University, Audubon Dakota, Ducks Unlimited, Partners for Fish and Wildlife, SD Game, Fish and Parks, The Nature Conservancy, Pheasants Forever, SD Soil Health Coalition, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and SD Grassland Coalition.

USDA is an Equal Opportunity Provider, Employer and Lender.

WHAT’S GOING ON ACROSS THE COUNTRY?

If you’re like us, it feels like we’re all very focused on what’s going on across the country as far as COVID-19 is concerned. It was almost a relief to read these articles and feel somewhat “normal” again. For a brief respite from the fears and concerns, read on.


Conservation Clips is a weekly collection of articles distributed by NACD that provides our members and partners with the latest news in what’s driving conservation. These articles are not indicative of NACD policy and are the opinions of their authors, unless otherwise noted. If you have a relevant submission or need assistance with accessing articles, please contact the NACD Communications Team.


NACD Blog: NACD offers educational pollinator field day guide
04/01/20

Conservation districts now have a new tool in their toolkit for teaching the important topic of pollinators.  NACD has released a free, first-of-its-kind curriculum, “A Guide to Conducting a Pollinator Conservation Field Day,” which is available for download through NACD’s new Conservation Education Hub.


AgDaily: Ag groups unite to advocate for conservation funding support
04/02/20

[This Thursday], 76 leading farm, conservation, and wildlife groups delivered a letter to Congress requesting full funding for conservation programs and technical assistance in fiscal year 2021 appropriations.

GrowingGeorgia: NACD Announces $8.5 Million in Grants to Conservation Districts
03/31/20

This is the third year of the Technical Assistance Grants program, created with funds from the United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), to help increase staffing at the field level to provide conservation services to farmers, ranchers, forestland owners and local communities across the U.S.

Farm and Dairy: Conservation planning helps save our soil
By Irene Moore
04/02/20

Now, more than ever before, American farmers and ranchers face a seemingly impossible task — to feed a rapidly growing global population. This challenge is being met with fewer farmable acres, less freshwater and more pronounced climate change. In an effort to assist the landowners and operators to meet these challenges, the National Conservation Planning Partnership (NCPP) was formed to emphasize the critical role that conservation planning plays in advancing voluntary conservation efforts on private lands.

Agri-Pulse: Agri-Pulse Poll: Farmers back carbon markets, but divided on climate change
By Philip Brasher
04/01/20

(Subscriber Only) Nearly one in every two American farmers would be interested in being paid to help reduce climate change, even though the climate issue is a relatively low priority and producers aren’t necessarily worried about its impact on their operations. The poll, conducted between Feb. 19 and March 13, also found that large majorities of farmers already have undertaken many practices that conserve carbon in the soil, reduce the use of pesticides and other inputs, or curb runoff of pollutants that can foul streams and lakes.

TIME Magazine: ‘Without Empathy, Nothing Works.’ Chef José Andrés Wants to Feed the World Through the Pandemic
By Sean Gregory
03/26/20

José Andrés’ rapidly expanding charity, World Central Kitchen, is as prepared as anyone for this moment of unprecedented global crisis. The nonprofit stands up field kitchens to feed thousands of people fresh, nourishing, often hot meals as soon as possible at the scene of a hurricane, earthquake, tornado or flood.

EurekAlert!: Changing forests
03/30/20

Using the U.S. Forest Service Forest Inventory and Analysis database, researchers at UC Santa Barbara, the University of Utah and the U.S. Forest Service have studied how the traits of tree communities are shifting across the contiguous United States. The results indicate that communities, particularly in more arid regions, are becoming more drought tolerant, primarily through the death of less hardy trees.

Bay Journal: Forests’ hidden wetlands work for wildlife, water quality
By Kathy Reshetiloff
04/01/20

Many forested wetlands have standing water on a seasonal or temporary basis. They provide the same benefits as marshes even if it is not as apparent.

PennState: Organic soybean producers can be competitive using little or no tillage
By Jeff Mulhollem
03/30/20

Organic soybean producers using no-till and reduced-tillage production methods that incorporate cover crops — strategies that protect soil health and water quality — can achieve similar yields at competitive costs compared to tillage-based production.

Yale Environment 360: Can ‘Carbon Smart’ Farming Play a Key Role in the Climate Fight?
By Gabriel Popkin
03/31/20

Markets are emerging to pay farmers to store more carbon in the soil by using improved agricultural practices. But flows of greenhouse gases into and out of soil are complex, and some scientists are questioning whether these efforts will actually help slow global warming.

Phys.org: Researchers forecast longer, more extreme wildfire seasons
04/02/20

In California, a changing climate has made autumn feel more like summer, with hotter, drier weather that increases the risk of longer, more dangerous wildfire seasons, according to a new Stanford-led study.

E&E News: Bernhardt approves 11K miles of fire breaks out West
By Scott Streater
04/01/20

(Subscriber Only) The Interior Department announced today that it has formally approved a sweeping plan designed to protect communities and wildlife habitat in six Western states from the threat of wildfires.

ABC News: Largest U.S. dam removal stirs debate over coveted West water
By Gillian Flaccus
03/29/20

The second-largest river in California has sustained Native American tribes with plentiful salmon for millennia, provided upstream farmers with irrigation water for generations and served as a haven for retirees who built dream homes along its banks. With so many competing demands, the Klamath River has come to symbolize a larger struggle over the increasingly precious water resources of the U.S. West, and who has the biggest claim to them.

Phys.org: Impacts of cover crop planting dates on soil properties after 4 years
04/02/20

In a recent article in Agronomy Journal, researchers investigated how broadcasting cover crops pre-harvest or drilling post-harvest affected biomass production and soil properties after four years.


SOURCE: https://www.nacdnet.org/news-and-events/publications/conservation-clips/

USDA SEEKS PROPOSALS FOR ON-FARM CONSERVATION AND SOIL HEALTH TEST PROJECTS

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service is accepting proposals through May 11 for On-Farm Conservation Innovation Trials (On-Farm Trials), now in its second year. On-Farm Trials, part of the agency’s Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG) program, help support the adoption and evaluation of innovative conservation approaches on agricultural land.

“NRCS has achieved tremendous success seeking innovative technologies and approaches to enhance conservation for agricultural producers and forest landowners for nearly 20 years,” said NRCS Chief Matthew Lohr. “The 2018 Farm Bill enhanced CIG by strengthening its demonstration component, allowing the agency to work with producers and partners to discover new conservation approaches and tools or enhance existing ones.”

NRCS will invest up to $25 million on On-Farm Trials in 2020. This total includes up to $10 million for the Soil Health Demonstration Trials (SHD) priority.

On-Farm Trials funding is designed to offer, through partners, technical and financial assistance to producers to help compensate for any risks associated with implementation of new conservation practices, systems and approaches. In addition, the trials require evaluation of the innovative conservation practices, systems and approaches at the farm level, including environmental, financial and social, (to the extent possible) impacts of carrying them out.

Visit the grants.gov website and view the On-Farms Trials funding announcement (tinyurl.com/tuuebcw).

NRCS is seeking proposals that address at least one of the following four On-Farm Trial main priorities:

• Irrigation management technologies.

• Precision agriculture technologies and strategies.

• Management technologies and strategies.

• Soil health demonstration trials.

NRCS will accept proposals from the following eligible entities:

• Private entities whose primary business is related to agriculture.

• Non-government organizations with experience working with agricultural producers.

• Non-Federal government agencies.

This is the second funding opportunity for On-Farm Trials, authorized through the 2018 Farm Bill. In 2019, NRCS funded 16 On-Farm Trials projects.

The On-Farm Trials component is distinct from the national CIG competitive grants funding, which is used to support early pilot projects or demonstrations of promising conservation approaches and technologies and is not typically provided directly to producers.

For more information, please visit the grants.gov funding opportunity for 2020. or visit NRCS’s On-Farm Trials webpage at tinyurl.com/y6z2h28k.

 

SOURCE: https://www.aberdeennews.com/farm_forum/usda-seeks-proposals-for-on-farm-conservation-and-soil-health/article_8db2a718-66f8-11ea-b506-a38e9727772c.html

2019 — A YEAR LIKE NO OTHER

PLANT CHAT

For your reading pleasure, because we just KNOW you’re getting tired of watching TV or waiting to plant, we offer to you the latest edition of Plant Chat. There’s a lot of good info in this one!

Seed Testing Reminder

As spring approaches, it is important to remind producers about germination requirements of any purchased seed or carryover seed they may be using for NRCS cost-share programs. Germination testing is important to help assure that proper seeding rates are being planted. When seed is sold, seed laws in each state specify a limit for the age of a germination test (Table 1). These requirements also apply to seed used for NRCS cost share programs. When a producer purchases seed, they should verify that germination testing dates meet their State seed law and NRCS program rules. Seed that is stored or carried over by a producer also needs to meet the germination testing standard. Seed vendors are aware of testing requirements, but it is easy to forget about retesting older purchased seed stored in a bin or shop. Seed lots with test dates that do not meet the standard need to have a new germination test run by an accredited seed testing lab (a tetrazolium test is not an acceptable substitute for a germination test). Even if germination testing is not required, a new test may be warranted if seed has been improperly stored. Heat and high humidity can greatly reduce germination and are the major killers of stored seed. Germination tests for grass and forb species generally take 14 to 28 days, so it is important to plan ahead.

UPDATES FROM OUR OFFICE

The speech contest originally scheduled for tomorrow, March 24, is cancelled due to the coronavirus. Please check back for updates.

Also, we cannot make any in-person appointments at this time. If you have any questions or concerns for the Minnehaha Conservation District, please contact John at 605-370-3480 or Hersh at 605-336-1527. To contact the NRCS, call 605-330-4515 ext. 3.

Like you, we hope all of this passes sooner rather than later. We are doing our part to “flatten the curve”. Thanks for your patience and understanding.

NO BOARD MEETING IN MARCH

The Minnehaha Conservation District will not be holding a meeting in March, due to mandated meeting numbers and the Corona virus.  The next scheduled meeting is on Tuesday, April 14 at 3:00 pm due to Monday, April 13 being a state holiday.

MESSAGE ON COVID-19

This week, the National Conservation Partnership held discussions and agreed to send a joint message on the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Beginning Monday, March 23, USDA service centers will be instituting locked door policies, with no public access to USDA offices. One employee per agency will be permitted in the office (one conservation district employee, one NRCS employee, one FSA employee, etc.) on a rotating schedule. High-risk employees will not be subject to rotation during this full telework plan.

Many state open meeting rules have temporarily changed to accommodate teleconference or video conferencing, with signatures only occurring when necessary outside of the service center facility.

Field work where necessary may continue to occur, but with only one employee per vehicle, with social distancing between them and their cooperator strictly observed. There is work to be done, and our field work will continue, but we must adapt to support getting this work done with limited personal contact. It is of the utmost importance that we all do our part to limit the exposure and spread of COVID-19.

This situation is rapidly evolving. USDA anticipates program deadlines will likely be extended, but the agency intends to make payments to our nation’s producers and landowners on time. USDA will be making another assessment about this full telework policy on April 3, but changes to plans may occur between now and then. Visit USDA’s COVID-19 website for national updates.

The Minnehaha Conservation District — Sioux falls office is open by appointment only. Clients will be screened and access determined. To make an appointment, contact John at 605-370-3480 or Hersh at 605-336-1527. To contact the NRCS, call 605-330-4515 ext. 3.

Although the exact effect on conservation in the next few weeks is yet to be determined, we know that conservation efforts cannot come to a complete halt. We stand together to continue to work as a partnership on this important issue and provide information when appropriate. We must adapt during this unprecedented time to protect the health and safety of our employees, customers, cooperators and communities by limiting exposure.

 

OUR AMAZING SOILS

Storing carbon and increasing the organic matter in our soils is an extremely important part of ensuring its health and productivity long term. Watch as Dennis Hoyle of Roscoe, explains how he is working to do just that in our latest “Our Amazing South Dakota Resources” commercial. Catch it on a variety of stations across the state!

The “Our Amazing South Dakota Resources” campaign was created in 2018 with the goal of better communicating the importance and value of grasslands and soil resources throughout the state. This campaign strives to better show what South Dakota farmers and ranchers are doing to protect and enhance these resources. Each thirty second video was created utilizing footage from interviews with South Dakota farmers and ranchers and showcases footage of their farming and ranching operations.

SOURCE: USDA NRCS South Dakota

USDA is an Equal Opportunity Provider, Employer and Lender.

WHAT’S GOING ON
IN THE REST OF THE COUNTRY
?

Here’s the latest edition of “Conservation Clips“.


Conservation Clips is a weekly collection of articles distributed by the National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) that provides our members and partners with the latest news in what’s driving conservation. These articles are not indicative of NACD policy and are the opinions of their authors, unless otherwise noted. If you have a relevant submission or need assistance with accessing articles, please contact the NACD Communications Team.

2020 SOIL HEALTH CONFERENCE SESSION VIDEOS

If you missed this year’s event, take some time to watch the keynote speaker videos listed below. Also, visit the SD Soil Health Coalition website to view breakout sessions and an additional speaker panel.




These sessions were videotaped at the SD Soil Health Coalition (SDSHC) 2020 Soil Health Conference & Annual Meeting in Watertown, South Dakota. The conference was sponsored by many exhibitors and sponsors. This video recording was made possible through an agreement between the SDSHC and USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service, under agreement 68-6740-17-010. Through this agreement the SDSHC and USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service are delivering the latest soil health and productivity technology to South Dakota farmers and ranchers, through these local events held across the state.

SDACDE MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP

The South Dakota Association of Conservation District Employees started a Memorial Scholarship fund in 1995 to honor the memory of past employees and their passion, dedication and commitment to the conservation movement.

The SDACDE is offering three (3) – $500 scholarships.  The purpose of this scholarship is to encourage those students concerned with conserving their natural resources by furthering their education in an agricultural/conservation related field.  The scholarship is available to graduating high school seniors who will be attending a 4-year college or a vocational school.

 

SDACDE Memorial Scholarship Criteria

SPONSOR: South Dakota Association of Conservation District Employees (SDACDE)

QUALIFICATIONS: The recipient will be a current year graduate of a South Dakota High School. The recipient shall have graduated in the upper 50% of the class. Students must be going into an Agricultural/Conservation related field and attending a South Dakota College or Vocational School.

PAYMENT: Three (3) $500 Scholarships Offered. Payment will be rendered to the recipient.  The amount of the scholarship is $500 to be paid upon completion of 2nd semester registration. The scholarship money will be used for buying books or any other college use.

PRESENTATION: The award will be presented at the recipient’s annual school awards program.

SELECTION CRITERIA:

1. Personal (employment, extra-curricular, honors, community service)  –  40%
2. Brief description of education and career goals  –  30%
3. Academic (grades)  –  10%
4. Letters of recommendation (2)  –  10%
5. Financial Need  –  10%

Information and a copy of the application form can be obtained below.

ALL APPLICATIONS MUST BE POST-MARKED ON OR BEFORE MARCH 31.