Updates and news from Private Landowner Network
New initiative focuses on critical role of soil health
The Soil Health Initiative will bring recognition to the central role of soil in productive agricultural systems, and establish a strategic plan to address soil health issues.
Report Shows that Farm Bill Conservation Practices Reduce Runoff of Nutrients, Sediment in Chesapeake Bay Watershed
USDA-led conservation practices in the Bay watershed are preventing millions of tons of soil erosion annually while reducing harmful runoff, report says.
Solar may be alternative for dealing with California’s high energy costs
California’s energy and environmental policies make it a high-cost energy state. But some growers are finding that installing solar panel arrays can be an answer to the dilemma of rising electrical bills.
USDA, EPA Partnership Supports Water Quality Trading To Benefit Environment, Economy
The USDA and EPA have announced a partnership that will support water quality trading and market-based approaches to land and natural resource conservation.
UC forest study: Excluding cattle doesn’t help toad
Fencing out cattle grazed in Yosemite toad habitat areas did not result in improved toad populations, University of California researchers found.
Applications for Conservation Stewardship Program due Jan. 17
Popular Farm Bill conservation program seeks producer participation
Will the farm bill leave private lands conservation behind?
Right now, following the farm bill’s progress seems a lot like watching corn grow. The major hurdle to clear right now, and that’s received a fair bit of media attention already, is how much to cut food stamps. But it’s important not to lose sight of what else is at stake. In addition to being the major domestic and foreign food assistance program, and agriculture safety net, the farm bill is also the nation’s largest private lands conservation fund. The House and Senate
USDA Announces Commodity Credit Corporation Lending Rates for December 2013
The CCC announced rates for Dec. 2013, which are unchanged from Nov.
Improving forage, livestock production begins with the soil
The management of soil health is of vital importance to producers as it is the dynamic resource that supports plant life.
Alameda County Resource Conservation District Wildlife-friendly Pond Program
The Alameda County RCD is offering several financial incentives for restoring stock ponds, which provide essential habitat for two threatened CA amphibians, through their Wildlife-friendly Pond Program.
Sequestration cuts will hit farm and ranch programs
The USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) warns that producers should consider expected sequestration cuts as the work with 2014 budgets.
USDA Announces Notice of Funding Availability for Value-Added Producer Grants
Grants extend production season and income opportunities for America's Farmers
Ag Sustainability Goes Long – From Field-Scale to Nation-Wide
Ag Resource Strategies, LLC offers ‘Farm Portfolio’ approach to simplify conservation complexity
Celebrate Urban Birds Mini-Grants
Every year, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology invites organizations, educators, and youth to apply for mini-grants to help fund creative neighborhood events.
USDA Announces November 2013 Feedstock Flexibility Program Results and a New CCC Invitation to Sell Sugar for Non-Food Uses
The CCC announced the results of the CCC's offer to sell sugar inventory for bioenergy production under the FFP.
High tunnel finds place in large-acreage farm plan
Even though the Adam's farm totals 4,000 acres the family recently began experimenting with farming on a much smaller scale through the use of high tunnels. The NRCS provided the family with technical and financial assistance to build the tunnels and install water efficient drip-irrigation systems in them.
New White House Rural Council Report Highlights the Economic Importance of Passing a Food, Farm and Jobs Bill
The Administration has made clear that passing a comprehensive farm bill is a priority, and of importance for every American. The White House released a new report, which explains what is at stake in this debate.
U.S. Forest Service Offers New Digital Maps for Mobile Devices
The U.S. Forest Service now offers access to variety of visitor maps for people using Android and iOS devices.
EPA Offers Funding to Reduce Pollution from Diesel Engines
The EPA has $2 million in funding for rebates to help public and private construction equipment owners replace or retrofit older diesel construction engines.
Experts: 'Something Bigger is Going on' with Wildfires
Science is connecting hotter, bigger fires and a longer, more intense fire season with changes in the climate.
Feds Unveil 50-Year Plan for Wetlands Restoration
A 50-year plan for the restoration of San Francisco Bay and other coastal wetlands was released Thursday by federal wildlife officials who say it's the biggest effort to save tidal marshes outside the Florida Everglades.
New effort helps farmers with tools to measure conservation impacts
NRCS is helping farmers install monitoring stations to test the quality of water flowing off their fields.
FSA Advises Producers to Anticipate Payment Reductions Due to Mandated Sequester
The Budget Control Act of 2011 mandates that federal agencies implement automatic, annual reductions to mandatory spending limits, the FSA describes it's implementation of sequestration here.
Obama Administration's National Drought Resilience Partnership to Help Communities Prepare for Drought
As part of President Obama's Climate Action Plan, the Obama Administration today announced an interagency National Drought Resilience Partnership to help communities better prepare for future droughts and reduce the impact of drought events on livelihoods and the economy.
Indiana Corn says AP Story Misses Facts on Farming and Conservation
The ICMC and Midwestern states refute a recent news article that claims ethanol production has pressured the removal of US farmland from conservation programs.
Experts discuss ways to boost honeybee forage
At a first-of-its-kind meeting in Sacramento, beekeepers, farmers and representatives of public and private organizations gathered to discuss how to improve honeybee populations by allowing beekeepers access to more sources of bee forage.
Meet me at the Border: Sage Grouse Initiative Projects Converge on Utah-Colorado Boundary
The Sage Grouse Initiative and private landowners are teaming up to erase the boundaries and restore valuable sage grouse habitat.
Conservation Easements: a tax break for the rich or a valuable conservation tool?
This week BusinessWeek published an article, 'IRS Cracks Down on Breaks Tied to Rich Americans' Land', explaining how conservation easement donations are being used unfairly by wealthy landowners. The Land Trust Alliance's response is included below.
Farmland too often not seen for environmental benefits
Farmland is too often seen as merely a 'place-holder' for development, when in fact it has many benefits for humans and wildlife alike.
Land conservation deal respects wishes of Comox Valley naturalist
The Comox Valley Land Trust and St. Joseph's Hosptial signed a conservation covenant for property that was left to the Hospital in 1991 by a naturalist that wanted the land to remain undeveloped.
USDA Partnership Supports Crop Insurance Education
USDA's Risk Management Agency announces crop insurance outreach funding for 45 states.
USGS Reports Lower Nitrates in Portions of Mississippi River Basin
Survey finds strong declines in some areas of basin, status quo in others
Tale of two ranches
Ranchers in Montana and Colorado see big game wildlife differently due to their state's policies on habitat management incentives, or lack thereof.
Cowgirl legacy lives in New Mexico
The Chase Ranch Foundation, owner of the historic Chase Ranch near Cimarrón since Sammis passed away in Aug. of 2012, and the adjacent and famous Philmont Scout Ranch, have announced the joint signing of a long-term lease and operating agreement that will help restore facilities at the ranch and open the ranch up to scouts and the general public in the years ahead.
Release of 2012 Census of Agriculture Data Delayed
USDA Invests in Crop Insurance Education to Help Small and Underserved Producers in 47 States Manage Risk, Remain Productive
The USDA RMA will support crop insurance education and outreach to ensure small and underserved producers get the information they need to effectively manage their risk and remain productive.
Secretary Vilsack Highlights First-Ever Report on USDA Efforts to Expand Agroforestry Practices on Farms, Ranches and Woodlands
This USDA report shows it's role in advancing agroforestry across the country.
Western SARE program deadlines approach
Find out more information on the Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program and grant options. Deadlines are approaching!
What Good is Dead Wood?
When you hear a barred owl calling “who cooks for you?” in your woods, chances are it’s calling from a nest cavity in the limb of a dying tree.
Farmers, agribusiness could be hammered by commodity loan suspension
USDA announcement that it is reducing commodity loan rates and suspending loan processing creates uncertainty as producers enter heart of harvest season.
US Forest Service Seeks Comments on Year-Round Recreation Activities at Ski Areas
Agency Proposes Criteria to Evaluate Activities and Facilities Allowed at Ski Areas Using Forest Service Lands
Farm Bill Could Benefit From Government Shutdown Crisis
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid last week proposed officially what many agricultural lawmakers and lobbyists have been expecting for a couple of years: The farm bill could be included in a much larger budget package.
Conservation Corner: Forests And Livestock Can Be Compatible
Livestock and trees can coexist and a managed silvopasture approach can maximize the benefit to the forest and the owner.
USDA Announces 2013-Crop Sugar Loan Rates
The CCC announced loan rates for 2013 crop sugar: 18.75 cents per lb for raw cane sugar and 24.09 cents per lb for refined beet sugar.
No time to back down on pollination BMPs
Almonds are referenced in virtually every news report about bees.
USDA Specialty Crop Block Grants Create New Economic Opportunities and Grow Markets in Local Communities
USDA will invest $52 million in grants to support America's specialty crop producers through the 2013 Specialty Crop Block Grant (SCBG) Program awards.
Local economy boosted by farms
Newcomers to the Central Valley often wonder how farms contribute so heavily to the nearby urban economies. A big part of the answer is diversification. The Central Valley is home to farms and service businesses that deal with hundreds of different crops – trees, vines, row crops, field crops, specialty crops, dairies, poultry production. They are planted, cultivated, cared for, harvested and sent to market at different times of the year, adding up to steady economic activity, reasonably s
'Licence to trash' offsetting scheme set back until Autumn
Government proposals would mean developers would have to pay compensation equal to any damage to habitats
Leading Environmental Restoration and Mitigation Banking Firm Expands Into Conservation Banking: Lesser Prairie Chicken to Benefit
The partnership between Restoration Systems LLC and Common Ground Capital will provide the capital and strategic resources needed to enable CGC to complete execution of landscape-scale species conservation banks. These banks will compensate for the destruction of the Lesser Prairie Chicken habitat.
New FSA Guaranteed Loan Limit
The new Farm Service Agency guaranteed loan limit is $1,355,000.
Bill to regulate fracking passes California state Assembly
A hotly contested bill that would impose California's first regulations on fracking and other oil production practices passed the state Assembly on Wednesday, despite opposition from environmentalists and oil companies.
Backyard Conservation: Bringing conservation from the countryside to your backyard
Just as they do on the farm, conservation practices on nonagricultural land can help increase food and shelter for birds and other wildlife, control soil erosion, reduce sediment in waterways, conserve water and improve water quality, inspire a stewardship ethic, and beautify the landscape.
NBTC Petitions FSA for Addition to CP33 Eligibility
Farm bill and sequestration impacting conservation programs
Farm and nutrition programs are often at the forefront of debate over a new farm bill. But conservation programs are also a vital part of the farm bill mix.
Soil matters: How the Federal Crop Insurance Program Should Be Reformed to Encourage Low-Risk Farming Methods with High-Reward Environmental Outcomes
Federal court upholds California oyster farm closure
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A federal appeals court on Tuesday upheld a decision by former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar not to renew the lease of a popular oyster farm operating in the Point Reyes National Seashore in Northern California.
Texas Quail Group Supports NBCI Ag Policy Efforts with $75,000 Grant
The Dallas-based, non-profit Park Cities Quail (PCQ) organization has awarded the National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (NBCI) $75,000 to support its efforts to educate federal agriculture policymakers in the nation’s capital regarding farm policy impacts on bobwhite quail and other wildlife species.
Energy Dept. Reports: U.S. Wind Energy Production and Manufacturing Reaches Record Highs
The Energy Department released two new reports showcasing record growth across the U.S. wind market -- increasing America’s share of clean, renewable energy and supporting tens of thousands of jobs nationwide. According to these reports, the United States continues to be one of the world’s largest and fastest growing wind markets.
Low-cost compound saves crops water
RIVERSIDE — Plants use less water when given an inexpensive chemical discovered by a UC Riverside researcher, according to a new study. Products developed from this research could help farmers cope with an increasingly strained water supply, in California and worldwide.
Almond crop takes downward turn
California's almond crop, which accounts for about 80 percent of world production, is expected to come in this year at 1.85 billion pounds, down nearly 8 percent from earlier predictions, U.S. farm officials announced Monday.
USDA and DOI Highlight Successes of Protecting Bird Habitat on Private Lands
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell today announced the release of the State of the Birds 2013 Report on Private Lands.
Latest Quail Research Available in New Volume
The latest in peer-reviewed quail research is now available in a 386-page volume, Quail VII: Proceedings of the Seventh National Quail Symposium.
Vilsack Outlines Vision for Agricultural Solutions to Environmental Challenges
WASHINGTON, June 5, 2013-Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today said that the Federal government must increase collaboration with producers, researchers and industry to develop the next generation of solutions that will help agriculture mitigate and adapt to modern climate challenges.
PRESS ALERT: First-Ever National Ranking Shows Most Coastal States Failing to Protect Oceans
Seattle WA - Today two leading marine science and conservation organizations, the Marine Conservation Institute and Mission Blue, issued the 1st-ever quantitative, scientifically rigorous national ranking of states’ protection of their ocean waters.
USDA seeks sign-ups for wetlands, grasslands conservation programs
USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service is accepting applications from landowners interested in the Wetlands Reserve Program and Grassland Reserve Program.
Survey of Woodland Owners Reveals Major Challenges
The U.S. Forest Service regularly surveys woodland owners to get information on the land they own, why they own it, how they use it and if—and how—they manage it.
Join AFF's Free the Trees Campaign
Insects, diseases and weeds threaten the future of the woodlands we cherish. Some 58 million acres of forestland in the United States are imperiled by pests and pathogens. More than 500 tree-damaging pests from other countries have become established here, with a new threat introduced every two to three years.
Wetlands clean water, provide homes for wildlife across the nation
Wetlands play a crucial role in the world’s ecosystem by protecting and improving water quality, filtering surface water, storing floodwater and creating or enhancing wildlife habitat.
Successful Managing Our Nation’s Fisheries Conference Brings Together Diverse Voices
2013 “Waters to Watch” List Highlights Variety of Conservation Challenges
(Washington, DC) - The National Fish Habitat Partnership (www.fishhabitat.org) has unveiled its 10 “Waters to Watch” list for 2013, a collection of rivers, streams, estuaries, watershed systems and lakes that will benefit from strategic conservation efforts to protect, restore or enhance their current condition.
Honeybee woes are costly for Valley almond growers
Every January the world's biggest honeybee migration begins, as beekeepers around the country make their way to California with millions of hives to pollinate the state's vast almond orchards.
Feral Swine: Ripping and Rooting Their Way across America
Feral swine have been called the “rototillers” of nature. Their longs snouts and tusks allow them to rip and root their way across America in search of food. Unfortunately, the path they leave behind impacts ranchers, farmers, land managers, conservationists, and suburbanites alike.
As honey bee numbers drop, U.S. sees threat to food supply
Honey bees, which play a key role in pollinating a wide variety of food crops, are in sharp decline in the United States, due to parasites, disease and pesticides, said a federal report released on Thursday.
Grant helps educate tribes on drought management
With the help of a USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service grant, the American Indian Inter Tribal Buffalo Council is working to make tribal lands more resilient to drought.
Water Quality Index for Agricultural Runoff, Streamlined and Accessible
USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service has developed a new web-based tool to help producers easily calculate the quality of water flowing off their fields.
Conservation and the Fiscal Cliff Deal
Enhanced Tax Incentive & Charitable Deduction Survive
Oyster Farm Caught Up in Pipeline Politics
POINT REYES NATIONAL SEASHORE, Calif. – Seen from a nearby hilltop, the Drakes Bay Oyster Company is a cluster of shacks with faded white walls. One patched roof appears at risk of being blown away by the next Pacific squall.
Before Spring Planting Expert Says, "Dig a Little. Learn a Lot."
DAVIS, Calif., April 3, 2013—As spring temperatures go up, it’s an excellent time for farmers, ranchers and gardeners to focus their attention down to the soil below them. A spring check-up of your soil’s health gives clues of your ground’s ability to feed plants, hold water, capture carbon and more. No fancy equipment required. Just grab a spade or shovel and prepare your senses to dig a little and learn a lot.
The State of Our Rivers and Streams
A recent EPA survey shows that more than half of the nation’s rivers and stream miles are in poor condition for aquatic life.
New Bobwhite Foundation Gets $1 Million Commitment As a Challenge for Additional Contributions
A bobwhite enthusiast in Texas kicked off fundraising for the new Bobwhite Foundation this week with a $100,000 endowment … and a promise to match up to $1 million in “endowed” donations from any other source within the next two years.
Project Noah is an award-winning software platform designed to help people reconnect with the natural world.
News Release: EPA Survey Finds More Than Half of the Nation’s River and Stream Miles in Poor Condition?
WASHINGTON — Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released the results of the first comprehensive survey looking at the health of thousands of stream and river miles across the country, finding that more than half – 55 percent – are in poor condition for aquatic life.
Terrafirma Takes Flight
The Land Trust Alliance has created a one-of-a kind charitable risk insurance pool to defend more than 20,000 land trust properties covering 6,354,434 acres in 46 states and Washington, DC from conservation violations or legal attack by developers and other parties. Terrafirma RRG LLC is owned by 420 land trusts that now have a safety net and can keep the promise of permanence.
The Enhanced Easement Incentive: Fiscal Cliff Update
Fiscal Cliff Deal Renews Tax Incentive Through 2013
USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and Partners Invest in Conservation for Mississippi River Health
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the investment of $59 million this year from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) for the health of the Mississippi River basin, making a total of approximately $289 million for the initiative that reduces nutrient and sediment run-off.
Don’t Take Your Ecosystem to a Doctor
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Glenn Suter II, who’s been an EPA scientist since 1998.
Forest Service Helps Hollywood Go Green
Hollywood’s first 100 percent sustainable studio set was created for 20th Century Fox’s comedy series “Raising Hope” thanks to the efforts of the U.S. Forest Service’s Forest Products Laboratory and NOBLE Environmental Technologies, a long-term collaborator with the laboratory.
2013 Sage Grouse Initiative Tracking Success Report Released
NEW 2013 REPORT REVEALS WHY A NEW PARADIGM FOR CONSERVATION WORKS
California's Rush to go Solar Threatens Farm Production
NDSU Develops Farm Fuel Budget App
Producers can compare projected fuel costs and use based on alternate crop acreages, tillage systems and crop rotations.
House Legislator Roby Introduces CRP Reform Bill
Bill would tighten the Conservation Reserve Program, allowing more land to be used for production.
Conservation Partners Announce Steps to Improve Fish Habitat in Northern California
The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and local partners today announced $2 million in financial assistance to help these landowners take additional steps to boost local salmonid and other aquatic-species populations.
Wetlands reserve program marks 20 Years of wetlands conservation
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
Utah Farmers and Ranchers Help Voluntary USDA Conservation Program Reach 50M-Acre Mark
In just four years, America’s top conservationists have enrolled 50 million acres in USDA’s Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), a program that helps farmers, ranchers and forest landowners take conservation to the next level.
Sangre de Cristo Conservation Area Grows
Louis Bacon, owner of Blanca Ranch, completed a 90,000 conservation easement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the agency's largest donated conservation easement. This helps build the Sangre de Cristo Conservation Area, one of the world's longest protected wildlife corridors through Colorado and New Mexico.
USDA Revises National Nutrient Management Standard to Achieve Maximum Agricultural, Environmental Benefits
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has revised its national conservation practice standard on nutrient management to help producers better manage the application of nutrients on agricultural land.