New National Research Initiative Aims to Improve Cover Crops
The Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR) & The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation have launched a $6.6 million national research initiative to promote soil health through the development & adoption of new cover crops across the US. The initiative, made possible by a $2.2 million grant from FFAR, will bring together representatives from the seed industry, the USDA -Agricultural Research Service (ARS) & Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), a producer network & multiple land-grant universities including Nebraska.
Source: Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research
Farm Conservation Funding on the Chopping Block
The Trump Administration has proposed cutting $4.7 billion, or 21%, of the USDA's budget. If made, those cuts will come from discretionary spending, which includes on-farm conservation funding—as well as food safety, rural development, & international food aid. There are several pots of federal money that are designated help pay farmers to be good environmental stewards of the land & water on their farm—or set the land aside entirely for wildlife. And those funds often play a key role in helping farmers stay in business. The USDA also funds thousands of NRCS staff positions around the country. But the proposed budget would “reduce staffing in USDA’s Service Center Agencies to streamline county office operations, reflect reduced Rural Development workload, & encourage private sector conservation planning.”
Source: Civil Eats
By: Bryce Oates
Industry Groups, Ag Leaders React to Proposed USDA, EPA Budget Cuts
Reuters reports ag leaders are criticizing the planned 21% cut to spending at the USDA in President Trump’s budget. This includes a reduction in some USDA statistical services & county-level staffing. “A lot of farmers & growers rely on USDA’s statistical capabilities to make a lot of marketing & risk-management decisions & planting decisions,” said John Newton, American Farm Bureau Federation Director of Market Intelligence. National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson says the cuts to EPA & USDA hit rural economies hard & the proposed cuts to the EPA could impact future pesticide approvals.
Source: Growing Produce
By: Christina Herrick
Farmers improve soil health, increase productivity
The Soil Health Institute was launched in 2013 in Morrisville, N.C. to help farmers improve soil health. The Institute emphasizes cover crops & no-tillage to help farmers improve the soil, increase productivity & help the environment.
Source: Southwest Farm Press
By: John Hart
Washington Senate’s ‘use it or lose it’ water bill heads to House
Washington state's House may take up a bill next week to ensure conservation doesn’t erode agricultural water rights. Senate Bill 5010 would allow irrigation districts & farmers to retain their full water rights, even if they cut back on use for an extended period. The bill’s prime sponsor, Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Judy Warnick, said farmers should be encouraged to save water, without fear of having to relinquish a portion of their water rights.
Source: Capital Ag Press
By: Don Jenkins
Runoff reduced, water retention increased by multi-paddock grazing
Adaptive multi-paddock grazing has been found to be an effective conservation practice on grazing lands for enhancing water conservation & protecting water quality, according to a Texas A&M AgriLife Research study at Vernon.
Source: North Texas e-News
By: Kay Ledbetter
Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program Promoted to Help Save Ogallala Aquifer
The USDA & the State of Kansas are partners in implementing a voluntary program to encourage Golden Belt farmers along the Arkansas River to decrease irrigation & take other steps to conserve water & help wildlife. The plan is the establishment of a Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) to enroll up to 28,950 acres of agricultural land in a number of counties to conserve & improve water resources & wildlife habitat through buffers, native grasses, shallow water areas for wildlife & the restoration of wetlands.
Source: Great Bend Tribune
By: Dale Hogg
Farmers & Environmentalists: Old Enemies Conserving Water Together
Environmental Defense Fund is launching a new Western water strategy that aims to solve the problems of groundwater depletion & habitat restoration by working jointly with farmers.
Source: News Deeply
By: Matt Weiser