SJ News Online - St. John, KS
  • Ag meetings, sign-ups and programs

  • A number of Ag programs are coming up - some with short deadlines.

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  • FSA Announces a CRP
    General Signup Period
    Manhattan, Kansas, February 24, 2012
    — Adrian J. Polansky, State Executive Director of USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) in Kansas, announced a Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) general signup on March 12, 2012 through April 6, 2012. This is the third consecutive year that USDA has offered a general CRP signup.
    “Over the past 26 years, CRP practices have improved water and air quality, increased wildlife habitat and prevented soil erosion,” said Polansky.
    Landowners enrolled in the CRP program receive annual rental payments and cost-share assistance to establish long-term, resource conserving covers on eligible farmland. Land that is not currently enrolled in CRP can be offered during sign-up if all eligibility requirements are met. CRP participants with contracts expiring this fall can make new contract offers during the signup period. Contracts awarded during this general signup will become effective October 1, 2012.
    CRP is authorized a maximum enrollment of 32 million acres nationwide. Kansas currently has 2,531,716 acres enrolled with an estimated 517,708 acres expiring September 30, 2012.
    General CRP offers are competitive and evaluated using an Environmental Benefits Index (EBI) ranking system that indicates the environmental benefits of enrolling land.
    CRP. There are five environmental factors that make up the EBI: wildlife, water, soil, air, enduring benefits and cost. Decisions as to acceptance or rejection of the offer will be made following the end of the sign-up period, after analyzing EBI data on all of the offers.
    In addition to the general sign-up, the continuous CRP sign-up program will be ongoing.
    Many counties are having CRP Informational Meetings. Obtain a list of meetings online at www.fsa.usda.gov/ks or contact your local FSA office.
    For more information, please contact the FSA Office at the local USDA Service Center or visit http://www.fsa.usda.gov/crp.n
    Failing septic system cost-share funding available
    The Stafford County Conservation District has cost-share funding available for the Non-Point Source Pollution Program (NPS) for failing on-site wastewater systems (septic systems). Cost-share for on-site wastewater systems is NOT available for homeowners with NEW home construction that requires a new on-site wastewater system. Funding is provided by the State Conservation Commission through appropriation from the Kansas Water Plan Fund.
    State cost-share programs are designed to provide funds on a cost-sharing basis to assist landowners in the installation and implementation of soil and water conservation and pollution control practices. County average cost is used for determining the amount of cost-share funds for installation of eligible practices not to exceed 50% of the county average cost. A landowner cannot be reimbursed more than 100% of the landowner actual cost of eligible components for a project.
    Page 2 of 7 - Cost-share funds issued are also based upon availability of funds, Project Limit, and Landowner Limit.
    Cost-share funds shall NOT be used for cost-sharing on projects that have been started or completed prior to making a request for financial assistance to the conservation district and the State Conservation Commission approval.
    The deadline to apply for cost-share is May 31, 2012. A 30 day deadline will be used for completion of installing the practice.
    Applications for the program will be accepted until May 31, 2012 or until all funds are under contract. Contact the Stafford County Conservation District, 804 E. First Ave., St. John, Kansas. If you have any questions about the cost-share program feel free to contact the Stafford County Conservation District at 1-620-549-3480 ext. 101.
    2012 Tractor Safety Training Course
    The Hazardous Occupation Training, more commonly known as the "Tractor Safety" course, will be offered again this year for youth who intend to operate farm machinery. If you are 14 or 15 and plan on driving a tractor this summer for someone other than your parents, you MUST take this course in order to protect the farmer you will be working for. If you took the course last year and received a certificate, this certificate is still valid and you need not repeat the course. If your 14th birthday is during 2012, you can take the course but you will not receive your certificate until you turn 14.
    This year's training will be held at the Pratt Community College Ag Power Technology Building, on Saturday, April 28th from 7:30 AM to 6:00 PM.. Cost for the course is $20.00 for those in sponsoring counties and $25.00 for those outside of sponsoring counties. If a Stafford County Resident, The Stafford County Farm Bureau will pay the $20.00 Registration Fee. On Saturday, lunch will be served at PCC and the cost is included in your registration fee. Students will need to bring their Social Security Number and a pencil to the training. Pre-registration is required. Because we are limited on the number of available participants, you must fill out the registration form, participation form, and pay the non-refundable registration fee prior to April 11th. Enrollment will be done on a first come, first serve basis. Each county will be limited to ten participants so get your forms turned in early.
    Enrollment packets can be obtained by contacting the Extension Office in one of the following counties: Pratt (620-672-6121); Barber (620-886-3971); Kiowa (620-723-2156); or Stafford (620-549-3502). Deadline for enrollment is 5:00 PM on April 11th. If you cannot attend this training, please contact an Extension Office at one of the counties listed above to find out dates and locations of training sessions in other counties in the area.
    USDA Announces New Funding For Conservation Partners
    Salina, Kansas, Feb. 22, 2012-USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Chief Dave White today announced a partnership with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) to improve water quality, wildlife habitat, and soil productivity. The partnership brings together $10 million of NRCS funding with an additional $10 million or more in private funds through NFWF to increase technical assistance in priority areas.
    Page 3 of 7 - "We are excited about this partnership," White said. "This effort is an innovative approach for stretching the public dollar further, engaging the private sector to tackle shared priorities, and employing local conservation professionals to help wildlife and sustain agriculture."
    NFWF is managing the Conservation Partners effort as competitive grants to increase “boots-on-the-ground” in priority areas. Non-federal specialists such as biologists, ecologists, foresters, and rangeland specialists will work with NRCS field offices to provide technical assistance to participating farmers, ranchers, and other landowners and managers.
    "Together, we will develop land management plans and projects that maximize benefits for fish and wildlife species," said NFWF executive director and CEO Jeff Trandahl. "Conservation professionals will assist landowners with wildlife-centered conservation planning and funding options."
    The first of several funding opportunities for the Conservation Partners grants is underway and pre-proposals are due by March 13, 2012. Grant awards to selected proposals will range from $50,000 to $250,000. Priority for funding will be directed to proposals that target species and eco-systems of shared interest between NFWF and NRCS. Some of the funds for the effort are targeted to provide technical assistance on Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) land.
    This first funding round prioritizes the Northeast Forests, Upper Mississippi River Basin, Gulf Coast, and Prairie Pothole regions. A second round of funding is scheduled for this spring to focus on the Lesser Prairie-Chicken, the Bay Delta, and other priority habitat areas. The Conservation Partners effort is also helping to accelerate conservation initiatives in the Chesapeake Bay, the Great Lakes, and Long Leaf Pine habitats.
    Eligible applicants
    Eligible applicants include non-profit organizations, educational institutions, Tribal governments, and state or local units of governments. Individuals, federal agencies, and for-profit firms are not eligible for NFWF Conservation Partners grants. For more information, visit NFWF's web-site for sign-up details: http://www.nfwf.org/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Charter_Programs_List&Template=/TaggedPage/TaggedPageDisplay.cfm&TPLID=60&ContentID=23534
    Seasonal High Tunnels for Organic
    Maria Stewart of Lebanon, Kansas in Smith County is a firm believer in seasonal high tunnels–also known as hoop houses. She’s also a firm believer in eating healthy. “The health of our soil is the health of our bodies,” she states. Stewart started her small organic operation, “Promised Land Farm,” just a few years ago. “The reason I began this in the first place is because I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 2000. The doctors told me it was incurable, but that’s not the case.”
    “It was during my illness that I started down the road of nutrition and learned the food in this country is lacking in minerals. Our food is shipped long distances and loses soluble vitamins and minerals in transit. We need high quality food. We are all mineral-starved in this country. We need 65 different minerals in order to be healthy and so does the soil. I went to work and was able to turn my situation around. Last year was the first year I was able to work,” she states.
    Page 4 of 7 - In January 2010, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), launched the seasonal high tunnel pilot study on whether the use of seasonal high tunnels is effective in reducing pesticide use, keeping vital nutrients in the soil, extending the growing season, increasing yields, and providing other benefits to growers.
    Seasonal high tunnels at a glance appear to be similar to common greenhouses. They produce a micro-climate like a common green house, but that’s where the similarity ends. Crops are planted in the ground under the high tunnel. The high tunnel is built over the crop. Irrigation is necessary and is applied through drip tape. The high tunnel ends are opened and closed as needed to maintain proper air exchange and temperatures for optimum growing conditions.
    Seasonal high tunnels extend the production season throughout the year. In Maria’s garden, she is growing 30 different vegetables.
    “I sold so many green beans my hands turned green from picking them,” Stewart laughs. Lettuce is another big seller.
    In 2010, she learned how NRCS offered programs that could help her install a high tunnel on her property.
    Stewart visited the local NRCS office in Smith Center and NRCS Supervisory district conservationist Steve Wingerson suggested that she apply for financial and technical assistance through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) under the Organic Initiative.
    Wingerson also told Stewart she might qualify as a beginning farmer which she did. With this contract, he worked with her and developed a conservation plan for her organic farm.
    Stewart has been active in promoting her locally grown organic produce. She has taken her gardening concept a step further and is classified as a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) kitchen.
    “I sell a subscription for my vegetables and people get a weekly basket of produce, she explains. “Folks will sign up for produce they want and cross out any they don’t. Every week, on a scheduled delivery day, they get five different vegetables in their basket.”
    “Seasonal high tunnels are part of the “Know Your Farmer; Know Your Food” USDA initiative,” says Wingerson. “The intent is to increase the availability of locally grown produce in a conservation-friendly way. This is a way to develop the local food system and spur economic opportunity,” he adds.
    Stewart likes EQIP. “I went with the high tunnel concept–to promote local organic produce and my goal is to cover a 50-mile radius.”
    “Through the use of EQIP, my operation has benefited me and an entire community by providing healthy food. I wanted to help other people see the health of the soil equals the health of our bodies. We tend to forget that connection. It fosters a connection between the farmer and the consumer,” says Stewart.
    Page 5 of 7 - For more information about seasonal high tunnels or natural resources conservation, please contact your local NRCS office or conservation district office. The office is located at your local USDA Service Center (listed in the telephone book under United States Government or on the internet at offices.usda.gov. More information is available on the Kansas Web site at www.ks.nrcs.usda.gov.
    USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.
    Funding Increase for Forestry Projects
    Deadline to Apply for This Year’s Funding Is April 6, 2012
    Salina, Kansas, February 15, 2012—A great opportunity exists for Kansas landowners statewide who are interested in financial assistance to manage or renovate older windbreaks, forests adjacent to streams (riparian), and woodlands. Through the Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative (CCPI), financial assistance is available in 2012 through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). The application deadline for this year’s funding is April 6, 2012. Landowners can apply for the program at their local county U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Service Center by visiting with the staff in the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) or conservation district offices. The local USDA Service Center is listed in the telephone book under United States Government or on the internet at offices.usda.gov. More information is also available on the Kansas Web site at www.ks.nrcs.usda.gov.
    Forest Stand Improvement Payments Up
    This year the program has increased payment for forest stand improvement practices (“thinning out” poorer quality trees with a chainsaw) to $292.81 per acre. In cases where the majority of woodlands are made up of honeylocust, Osage orange, or other invasive trees or shrubs, the program pays landowners up to $720 per acre to use heavy equipment like bulldozers to remove trees. CCPI also covers the cost to replant higher quality trees, such as oaks and black walnut, back into woodlands to bring them to the proper stocking levels.
    Windbreak Renovation
    Many shelterbelts and windbreaks that were planted as a result of the Dust Bowl are old and no longer provide conservation benefits. One of the more popular options under CCPI has been the renovation of these older windbreaks. Landowners with windbreaks that provide protection for livestock or crop fields are eligible. This practice pays landowners $0.98 a linear foot to remove old tree rows that are no longer growing well and also covers the majority of costs to plant new tree rows, apply weed barrier fabric mulch, or irrigation systems.
    Riparian Forest Establishment and Renovation
    Since many of the trees that line our major rivers and streams are in decline due to human-caused changes to river channels and streamflows, CCPI provides funding to plant additional trees and to manage mature riparian forests. Landowners can receive $1,214.90 per acre to plant thousands of acorns and walnuts or use seedlings and receive $1.49 for each one planted. Funds are also available to prepare planting sites and for the follow up maintenance necessary for success.
    Page 6 of 7 - The application deadline for this year’s funding is April 6, 2012. Kansas Forest Service foresters are available to make site visits and help landowners plan their projects. The steps for applying for CCPI include (1) contacting your county NRCS Office and making an appointment to apply for the program and (2) contacting your local Kansas Forest Service district forester who can be found on the Web at http://www.kansasforests.org/staff/rural/index.shtml or by calling the Kansas Forest Service state office at 785-532-3300. Landowners are also invited to complete a Self-Assessment Worksheet for Forestland located on the Web at http://www.ks.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/eqip/2012/self_assessment.html which may assist with the application process.
    Kansas foresters provide one-on-one services over large multi-county districts through a variety of programs. Applying for CCPI now will ensure quality, timely services and improve the chances for successful projects. However, even if landowners miss the April 6 deadline for 2012 funding, applications will be accepted at any time of the year for 2013 funding.
    The majority of windbreaks, woodlands, and forests in the United States are privately owned (95 percent in Kansas). The sustainability of these resources falls squarely on the shoulders of Kansas farmers, ranchers, and the many other landowners of our state. CCPI sends a clear message that we, as a people, believe there are public benefits from the management of Kansas forests and agroforestry resources.
    In Kansas, socially disadvantaged, limited resource, and beginning farmers and ranchers will receive a higher payment rate for conservation practices related to CCPI.
    Information about other NRCS conservation programs can be found at www.ks.nrcs.usda.gov/programs. Follow us on Twitter at NRCS_Kansas. USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.
    Deadline Near for ‘Passing on the Family Farm or Agri-Business’ Conference
    Time is running short to register for the March 31 K-State Research and Extension “Planning for the Future - Passing on the Family Farm or Agri-Business” Conference in Concordia.
    Registration for the event, to be held at Cloud County Community College, is required by March 19 to any K-State Research and Extension River Valley Extension (www.rivervalley.ksu.edu) office. The $50 fee for the first person, includes morning refreshments, lunch and a proceedings notebook. Additional family members and/or students may attend at a cost of $35 without a notebook. Checks should be made payable to the River Valley Extension District #4.
    Keynote speakers include Ron Hanson of the University of Nebraska, addressing family farm estate planning, and Roger McEowen of Iowa State University, discussing concepts and issues affecting farm succession planning.
    Page 7 of 7 - Participants can attend three breakout sessions from 10 options, including such topics as: family farm estate planning; wills, trusts and other legal considerations; planning for the next generation; family communications; summer internships, and charitable giving, among others.
    The conference is sponsored by K-State Research and Extension’s River Valley Extension District; Central National Bank and Central National Wealth and Trust Management Services; Citizens National Bank Trust Department, American Ag Credit, Peoples Exchange Bank, and United Bank & Trust.
    The River Valley Extension District is comprised of Republic, Washington, Cloud and Clay counties.
    More information is available by calling 785-632-5335.
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