NRCS Announces Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) Sign-up in Illinois.
Champaign, IL, June 3, 2015— In January, the U. S. Department of Agriculture-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) awarded funding for a special project to the Illinois Department of Agriculture. NRCS will fund the project through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP), using the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) to install conservation practices that reduce erosion and improve water quality on agricultural land.
NRCS offers different programs to get conservation on the ground, and RCPP is just one new avenue available to Illinois producers. The conservation practices offered are proven to address local resource concerns and include use of cover crops, nutrient management, and no-till/strip-till.
This NRCS project works in partnership with the Illinois Department of Agriculture, and will focus on producers located throughout Illinois who are interested in installing any or all of the previously mentioned practices. To take advantage of this special conservation funding opportunity, interested producers should submit an application to their local field office by the cutoff date of July 17, 2015. Producers are reminded that they can submit an EQIP application to their local field office at any time throughout the year.
Over the next four years, the Illinois Department of Agriculture’s RCPP project will target approximately 65 producers in 65 counties across the State of Illinois to promote improved soil health and water quality. The partners involved and local interest has this project off to a great start.
To apply, eligible producers should contact their local NRCS field office or visit the Illinois NRCS website at www.il.nrcs.usda.gov
Secretary Vilsack Announces Additional 800,000 Acres Dedicated to Conservation Reserve Program for Wildlife Habitat and Wetlands
MILWAUKEE, May 29, 2015 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today that an additional 800,000 acres of highly environmentally sensitive land may be enrolled in Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) under certain wetland and wildlife initiatives that provide multiple benefits on the same land.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will accept new offers to participate in CRP under a general signup to be held Dec. 1, 2015, through Feb. 26, 2016. Eligible existing program participants with contracts expiring Sept. 30, 2015, will be granted an option for one-year extensions. Farmers and ranchers interested in removing sensitive land from agricultural production and planting grasses or trees to reduce soil erosion, improve water quality and restore wildlife habitat are encouraged to enroll. Secretary Vilsack made the announcement during a speech delivered at the Ducks Unlimited National Convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
“For 30 years, the Conservation Reserve Program has supported farmers and ranchers as they continue to be good stewards of land and water. This initiative has helped farmers and ranchers prevent more than 8 billion tons of soil from eroding, reduce nitrogen and phosphorous runoff relative to cropland by 95 and 85 percent respectively, and even sequester 43 million tons of greenhouse gases annually, equal to taking 8 million cars off the road,” said Vilsack. “This has been one of most successful conservation programs in the history of the country, and today’s announcement keeps that momentum moving forward.”
The voluntary Conservation Reserve Program allows USDA to contract with agricultural producers so that environmentally sensitive land is conserved. Participants establish long-term, resource-conserving plant species to control soil erosion, improve water quality and develop wildlife habitat. In return, USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) provides participants with rental payments and cost-share assistance. Contract duration is between 10 and 15 years.
“CRP protects water quality and restores significant habitat for ducks, pheasants, turkey, quail, deer and other important wildlife. That spurs economic development like hunting and fishing, outdoor recreation and tourism all over rural America,” said Vilsack. “Today we’re allowing an additional 800,000 acres for duck nesting habitat and other wetland and wildlife habitat initiatives to be enrolled in the program.”
In addition to Ducks Unlimited’s partnership with the Conservation Reserve Program, other longtime partners include Pheasants Forever, Quail Forever, Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, National Association of State Foresters, National Wild Turkey Federation, Audubon Society, National Bobwhite Technical Committee, Quality Deer Management Association, National Rural Water Association, Playa Lakes Joint Venture, Longleaf Alliance, state soil and water conservation districts, and state forestry, agriculture and natural resource agencies.
“I encourage all farmers and ranchers to consider the various CRP continuous sign-up initiatives that may help target specific resource concerns,” said Vilsack. “Financial assistance is offered for many practices including conservation buffers and pollinator habitat plantings, and initiatives such as the highly erodible lands, bottomland hardwood tree and longleaf pine, all of which are extremely important.”
Farmers and ranchers may visit their FSA county office for additional information. The 2014 Farm Bill authorized the enrollment of grasslands in CRP and information on grasslands enrollment will be available after the regulation is published later this summer.
The Conservation Reserve Program was re-authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill, which builds on historic economic gains in rural America over the past six years, while achieving meaningful reform and billions of dollars in savings for taxpayers. Since enactment, USDA has made significant progress to implement each provision of this critical legislation, including providing disaster relief to farmers and ranchers; strengthening risk management tools; expanding access to rural credit; funding critical research; establishing innovative public-private conservation partnerships; developing new markets for rural-made products; and investing in infrastructure, housing, and community facilities to help improve quality of life in rural America. For more information, visit www.usda.gov/farmbill.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (866) 632-9992 (Toll-free Customer Service), (800) 877-8339 (Local or Federal relay), (866) 377-8642 (Relay voice users).
Illinois Market News Service Offers Free Hay Directory
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Whether buying or selling, the Illinois Department of Agriculture can help consumers who are in the market for hay. Since 2007, its Market News Service has offered an internet-based Hay Directory, an interactive website for buyers and sellers of hay and straw to post ads and fill their needs. The directory is located on the department’s website, www.agr.state.il.us, under “Consumers” at the top of the homepage. “The site contains leads to help producers find supplies of alfalfa, alfalfa-mixed and grass hay,” Market News reporter Jerry Millburg said. “Supplies of wheat straw also can be found on the hay directory, and even supplies of organic hay and straw.” The directory is free and easy to use. Producers who have hay or straw to sell, for example, just need to click on the “List an Ad” button. The site then will lead them through the process of creating an individualized ad that can be revised at any time. Buyers have the option of either responding directly to an ad posted on the site or creating a listing of their own announcing their intention to buy. “This directory is a valuable resource, especially when hay is in short supply,” Agriculture Director Bob Flider said. “The directory gives producers a place to turn when they can’t find a local supplier.”
Why plant a rain garden?
A rain garden is a shallow depression that is planted with deep-rooted native plants and grasses. The garden should be positioned near a runoff source like a downspout, or driveway to capture rainwater runoff and stop the water and pollutants from reaching the sewer system. Storm water (rain or melting snow) runs off roofs, driveways and other impervious surfaces. This water flows directly to streets, down the storm drains and right into rivers and lakes. Storm water runoff is untreated and carries pollutants like oil, salt, fertilizer, pesticides, pet waste, transportation chemicals, and soil sediment into water sources. Rain gardens capture runoff carrying pollutants that contaminate our waterways. The water then infiltrates deep into the ground so that it can be used by the nearby plants. Native plants have deep roots that help to soak up the water, break up hard soil, and permeate water and nutrients deep into the soil. In addition of the improvement in water quality, rain gardens also provide habitat for birds and beneficial insects, reduce pest and harmful insects, and can be used to teach children and adults about the water quality practices. The Coles Co. SWCD is selling a large variety of native plants through May 16th that can be used to create a rain garden through May 16. Order forms are available at the office located at 6021 Development Drive, Charleston, Illinois. In addition of native plants, resources are also available to assist landowners with planning a rain garden. The Coles Co. SWCD is open Monday-Friday from 8:00am to 4:30pm. You can contact the office at 217 345-3901 ext. 3.