Wednesday, April 21, 2021

USDA Expands and Renews Conservation Reserve Program in Effort to Boost Enrollment and Address Climate Change

 


USDA Also Announces Investments in Partner Programs to Support Climate-Smart Policies

WASHINGTON, April 21, 2021 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today that USDA will open enrollment in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) with higher payment rates, new incentives, and a more targeted focus on the program’s role in climate change mitigation. Additionally, USDA is announcing investments in partnerships to increase climate-smart agriculture, including $330 million in 85 Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) projects and $25 million for On-Farm Conservation Innovation Trials. Secretary Vilsack made the announcement today at the White House National Climate Task Force meeting to demonstrate USDA’s commitment to putting American agriculture and forestry at the center of climate-smart solutions to address climate change.

The Biden-Harris Administration is working to leverage USDA conservation programs for climate mitigation, including continuing to invest in innovation partnership programs like RCPP and On-Farm Trials as well as strengthening programs like CRP to enhance their impacts.

“Sometimes the best solutions are right in front of you. With CRP, the United States has one of the world’s most successful voluntary conservation programs. We need to invest in CRP and let it do what it does best—preserve topsoil, sequester carbon, and reduce the impacts of climate change,” said Vilsack. “We also recognize that we can’t do it alone. At the White House Climate Leaders Summit this week, we will engage leaders from all around the world to partner with us on addressing climate change. Here at home, we’re working in partnership with producers and local organizations through USDA programs to bring new voices and communities to the table to help combat climate change.”

Conservation Reserve Program

USDA’s goal is to enroll up to 4 million new acres in CRP by raising rental payment rates and expanding the number of incentivized environmental practices allowed under the program. CRP is one of the world’s largest voluntary conservation programs with a long track record of preserving topsoil, sequestering carbon, and reducing nitrogen runoff, as well providing healthy habitat for wildlife.

CRP is a powerful tool when it comes to climate mitigation, and acres currently enrolled in the program mitigate more than 12 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e). If USDA reaches its goal of enrolling an additional 4 million acres into the program, it will mitigate an additional 3 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent and prevent 90 million pounds of nitrogen and 33 million tons of sediment from running into our waterways each year.

“We want to make sure CRP continues to be a valuable and effective conservation resource for our producers for decades to come,” said Vilsack. “USDA will continue to find new and creative ways of putting producers and landowners at the center of climate-smart practices that generate revenue and benefit our planet.”

CRP’s long-term goal is to establish valuable land cover to help improve water quality, improve soil health and carbon sequestration, prevent soil erosion, and reduce loss of wildlife habitat. USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) offers a number of signups, including the general signup and continuous signup, which are both open now, as well as a CRP Grasslands and pilot programs focused on soil health and clean water.

New Climate-Smart Practice Incentive

To target the program on climate change mitigation, FSA is introducing a new Climate-Smart Practice Incentive for CRP general and continuous signups that aims to increase carbon sequestration and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Climate-Smart CRP practices include establishment of trees and permanent grasses, development of wildlife habitat, and wetland restoration. The Climate-Smart Practice Incentive is annual, and the amount is based on the benefits of each practice type.

Higher Rental Rates and New Incentives

In 2021, CRP is capped at 25 million acres, and currently 20.8 million acres are enrolled. Furthermore, the cap will gradually increase to 27 million acres by 2023. To help increase producer interest and enrollment, FSA is:

  • Adjusting soil rental rates. This enables additional flexibility for rate adjustments, including a possible increase in rates where appropriate.
  • Increasing payments for Practice Incentives from 20% to 50%. This incentive for continuous CRP practices is based on the cost of establishment and is in addition to cost share payments.
  • Increasing payments for water quality practices. Rates are increasing from 10% to 20% for certain water quality benefiting practices available through the CRP continuous signup, such as grassed waterways, riparian buffers, and filter strips.
  • Establishing a CRP Grassland minimum rental rate. This benefits more than 1,300 counties with rates currently below the minimum.

Enhanced Natural Resource Benefits

To boost impacts for natural resources, FSA is:

  • Moving State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement (SAFE) practices to the CRP continuous signup. Unlike the general signup, producers can sign up year-round for the continuous signup and be eligible for additional incentives.
  • Establishing National Grassland Priority Zones. This aims to increase enrollment of grasslands in migratory corridors and environmentally sensitive areas.
  • Making Highly Erodible Land Initiative (HELI) practices available in both the general and continuous signups.

Expanding Prairie Pothole Soil Health and Watershed Programs

CRP has two pilot programs ― the Soil Health and Income Protection Program (SHIPP) and the Clean Lakes, Estuaries and Rivers 30-year contracts (CLEAR30).

  • For SHIPP, which is a short-term option (3, 4, or 5-year contracts) for farmers to plant cover on less productive agricultural lands, FSA will hold a 2021 signup in the Prairie Pothole states.
  • The CLEAR30 pilot, a long-term option through CRP, will be expanded from the Great Lakes and Chesapeake Bay pilot regions to nationwide.

Increasing Technical Assistance Capacity to Establish Robust Mechanisms for Measurement, Monitoring, Reporting and Verification of Soil Carbon

USDA technical assistance through the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is critical to enable producers to plan and implement appropriate conservation practices for their needs. Under this initiative, NRCS will also initiate a soil sampling protocol to help establish a baseline for soil carbon on land enrolled in CRP. To ensure increased enrollment and support for producers, USDA is increasing NRCS technical assistance capacity for CRP by $140 million.

Additionally, in order to better target the program toward climate outcomes, USDA will invest $10 million in the CRP Monitoring, Assessment and Evaluation (MAE) program to measure and monitor the soil carbon and climate resilience impacts of conservation practices over the life of new CRP contracts. This will enable the agency to further refine the program and practices to provide producers tools for increased climate resilience.

To learn more about updates to CRP, download our “What’s New with CRP” fact sheet(PDF, 122 KB).

Partnership Programs Contribute to Priorities

In addition to changes to CRP, Secretary Vilsack also announced significant investments for climate-smart policies. First, NRCS is investing $330 million in 85 locally driven, public-private partnerships under the Regional Conservation Partnership Program to address climate change and other natural resources challenges. NRCS will announce more details on the RCPP project selections on April 26.

Second, NRCS is investing $25 million in proposals for On-Farm Trials, which are part of the Conservation Innovation Grants program. NRCS is seeking proposals through June 21. Project priorities include climate-smart agricultural solutions and soil health practices.

Under the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is engaged in a whole-of-government effort to combat the climate crisis and conserve and protect our nation’s lands, biodiversity, and natural resources including our soil, air and water. Through conservation practices and partnerships, USDA aims to enhance economic growth and create new streams of income for farmers, ranchers, producers and private foresters. Successfully meeting these challenges will require USDA and our agencies to pursue a coordinated approach alongside USDA stakeholders, including state, local, and tribal governments.

USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Manage cool-season perennial grasses now for a successful grazing season

 

 

By Ryan McGeeney
U of A System Division of Agriculture

 

Fast Facts:

·       Many grasses can be fertilized throughout the spring and summer

·       Some deficiencies may not be apparent to the naked eye

·       Soil testing key to meeting the needs of the pasture

 

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — With spring temperatures on the horizon, many ranchers and pasture managers are looking to their calendar, deciding when to turn cattle out for grazing or planning that first cut of hay. 

 

Dirk Philipp, associate professor of animal science for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, said producers should first take look at the condition of their pastures, and make sure they’re setting themselves up for success.

 

“It’s time to give your pastures some love,” Philipp said. 

 

He said the first step for producers to ensure a good grazing season is to walk through their pastures and assess the condition of the forage base, asking a few key questions along the way.

 

“Did the species composition change from the year prior?” Philipp said. “Do you see any kind of novel weed plants you normally don’t see there? Do you still have a 75 percent or greater coverage of your main forage base?”

 

Producers who plan to sell hay such as bermudagrass, and are looking to establish a clean stand of forage, should apply herbicides while both the grass and weeds are still dormant, Philipp said.

 

“Take a soil sample if you forgot to do so last fall,” he said. “This will help in assessing the needs for replacing macro-nutrients besides the nitrogen. Don’t let major nutrient deficiencies crop up over the years — it is very expensive to correct major deficiencies, especially potassium.

 

“Fescue is resilient, and you may not be able to judge deficiencies just from looking at the foliage such as is the case with orchardgrass,” Philipp said. 

 

If growers haven’t already been applying nitrogen fertilizers to cool-season perennial grasses, time is running out on that opportunity, Phillip said. 

 

“Ideally, you would apply 60-70 pounds of nitrogen in early to mid-March,” he said. “Orchardgrass, especially, is very responsive to nitrogen fertilization and will lose vigor rapidly if not fertilized.”

 

Philipp said growers should look for yellowish leaves and weak growth in orchardgrass, which are tell-tale signs that nitrogen is missing. However, hope is not lost if March came and went without fertilization.

 

“You can apply nitrogen fertilizer anytime during spring, but you obviously want to catch the major growth phase between March and early Summer,” he said.  

 

Additionally, some forages require calibrated management to thrive. Forages such as orchardgrass, for example, need to be defoliated to maintain a healthy stand and to avoid a buildup of decayed leaves.

 

Philipp recommended stocking cattle on cool-season perennials when the canopy is about 18–24 inches. 

 

“What’s important is to start grazing in the vegetative phase before plants reach maturity, but remove animals on time to retain enough leaf material for regrowth,” he said. “This means producers should find the ‘sweet spot,’ moving cattle to new paddocks and then removing them before the canopy becomes grazed too short.”

 

To learn more about extension programs in Arkansas, contact your local Cooperative Extension Service agent or visit uaex.uada.edu. Follow us on Twitter at @UAEX_edu

 

 

About the Division of Agriculture

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work within the nation’s historic land grant education system. 

 

The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses.  

 

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs to all eligible persons without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer. 

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Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Overcoming obstacles: farm security and legal updates to be provided at 2021 Virtual Summit

 

Register before rates increase April 16!

 

April 6, 2021 – Animal rights activists continue to create obstacles for farms, processing facilities, grocery stores, animal agriculture companies and others involved in the supply chain working to provide consumers with safe, affordable animal protein. Panels at the Animal Agriculture Alliance’s 2021 Virtual Summit will address new activist trends that have emerged and provide best practices to protect farms and facilities. 

The Alliance’s annual Summit brings together thought leaders in the agriculture and food industries to discuss hot-button issues and out-of-the-box ideas to connect everyone along the food chain, engage influencers and protect the future of animal agriculture. The 2021 event, themed “Obstacles to Opportunities,” is scheduled for May 5-6 with preconference webinars planned for the five business days prior, beginning Wednesday, April 28. 

 

“Taking advantage of people when they are most vulnerable is a disgrace, but that’s just what animal rights activists have done during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Hannah Thompson-Weeman, Alliance vice president of strategic engagement. “While the rest of the world was focused on mitigating the effects of the global public health crisis, these groups continued to mercilessly push their vegan and anti-animal agriculture agendas. Our security and legal panels will discuss the obstacles created by animal rights groups over the past year and dive into opportunities to safeguard the future of the animal agriculture community.”

 

In the “Overcoming Obstacles: Activist Update & Security Advice” panel, speakers will provide an update on animal rights activists’ efforts to capitalize on the COVID-19 crisis, protests outside of company CEO’s homes, trespasses onto farms and more. But, most importantly they will share how attendees can overcome these obstacles by implementing proactive security and crisis planning measures. The expert panel includes:

 

  • John Sancenito, President, INA, Inc.
  • Jim Naugle, Assistant Sheriff, Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office
  • Nancy Daigneault, Principal & Founder, On Point Communications

 

Directly following the security panel, legal updates will be provided as part of the “Navigating the Legal Landscape” session. Animal agriculture is on trial in the court of public opinion as animal rights activists spread misinformation about animal welfare, sustainability and other key issues. However, animal rights activists are also taking their plight to the actual courtroom as they bring coordinated litigation against farms and companies. Attendees will learn about the topics and trends that affect your businesses and organizations, including proactive steps that may be taken to avoid litigation issues and best practices on how to navigate the legal landscape with these groups. Seasoned agriculture law attorneys serving on the panel include:

 

  • Michelle Pardo, Partner, Duane Morris LLP
  • Brianna Schroeder, Partner, Janzen Schroeder Ag Law

 

The full Virtual Summit agenda is available on the Virtual Summit registration website. Sessions will highlight ways to position animal agriculture as a path forward to climate neutrality, how to elevate the voices of farmers in dialogues surrounding food and agriculture, and strategies for virtual stakeholder and influencer engagement.

 

Be sure to check the Virtual Summit website for the most up-to-date information and to register. You can also follow the hashtag #AAA21 for periodic updates about the event. For general questions about the Summit please contact summit@animalagalliance.org or call (703) 562-5160.

 

Get involved:

Show your support for the Alliance’s outreach efforts by becoming an official Summit sponsor today! For 2021 sponsorship opportunities, please visithttps://animalagalliance.org/initiatives/stakeholders-summit/For more information, contact Casey Kinler at ckinler@animalagalliance.org.  

 

Thank you to our 2021 Summit sponsors: Watt Global Media, Farm Journal, Meatingplace, National Pork Producers Council, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, Smithfield, National Pork Board, American Feed Industry Association, United Soybean Board, United Egg Producers, Country Folks, Dairy MAX, Farm Credit, National Biodiesel Board, Cobb Vantress, Inc., Protect the Harvest, Progressive Dairy, The National Provisioner, Kemin, American Farm Bureau Federation, American Veal Association, National Chicken Council, Trans Ova Genetics, Vivayic, Mountaire Farms, North Carolina Farm Bureau and Eggland’s Best.

 

The Alliance also thanks the following members for their continued support of Summit and other Alliance programs: U.S. Poultry & Egg Association, Zoetis, Merck Animal Health, C.O.nxt, Diamond V, Genus PLC – PIC/ABS, Aviagen Group, Boehringer Ingelheim, Cargill, Dairy Farmers of America, Hendrix Genetics, Hy-Line North America, LLC, Iowa Soybean Association, Midwest Dairy, National Turkey Federation, Nutrien, Provimi North America, Inc., Seaboard Foods and Tyson Foods Inc.

 

About the Alliance:

The Animal Agriculture Alliance is an industry-united, nonprofit organization that helps bridge the communication gap between farm and fork. We connect key food industry stakeholders to arm them with responses to emerging issues. We engage food chain influencers and promote consumer choice by helping them better understand modern animal agriculture. We protect by exposing those who threaten our nation’s food security with damaging misinformation. 


Find the Alliance on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.


Monday, March 29, 2021

Texas lamb and goat markets remain hot




Lambing and kidding season has begun as the market for goat and lamb continues to ride a wave of high prices due to steady demand and limited supplies. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo) 

Texas lamb and goat meat producers continue to command high prices in a niche market driven by high demand and low supplies, according to a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service expert.

Reid Redden, Ph.D., AgriLife Extension sheep and goat specialist and interim director of the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center, San Angelo, said the Texas lamb and goat markets have thrived despite COVID-19 and that travel restrictions likely helped spur demand higher.

“The lamb and goat markets are in another world as it relates to market conditions most Texas ag producers have been dealing with,” he said. “The market for Texas lambs and goats is diverse, resilient and growing. It avoided supply chain bottleneck issues other livestock markets dealt with, and I think the COVID restrictions kept the regular consumers home, which means more family functions to eat lamb and goat meat.”  

Lamb in high demand

Texas producers continue to command top prices as they supply a niche market around the U.S., Redden said.

In January, the base price for 60-pound lightweight slaughter lambs was $3 per pound, up 70 cents per pound from this time last year, he said. Those lambs are selling $1 per pound over the five-year rolling average.

Overall, consumer demand for lamb has expanded in recent years. But Redden said Texas lambs have commanded premium prices through the non-traditional market compared to the traditional market for restaurants or retail sale.

The traditional feeder market, which prefers larger framed, wool-type lambs fed to 140-180 pounds, and mimics the beef industry as far as processing and logistics, is not as common in Texas as it used to be, he said. The vast majority of Texas lambs are smaller-framed hair sheep that typically weigh 40-80 pounds – and go to ethnic consumers.

Prices for Texas lambs are driven primarily by the demand from nontraditional ethnic consumers, who are concentrated in major populations centers around the state and nation, Redden said.

Lambs are shipped live to the markets where they are sold directly to consumers or harvested by ethnic processors and distributed to ethnic grocers and butcher shops. These non-traditional markets demand smaller, leaner lambs and pay a premium for them.

“The market has been strong for some time now, but prices continue to trend upward,” he said. 

Prices reflecting demand

Lamb production is limited in the U.S. because very few regions have climates and production conditions that sheep perform well in compared to other livestock.

Redden said Western parts of Texas are ecologically perfect for sheep. Native plant species include many varieties of browse that sheep find palatable, and the arid conditions make controlling internal parasites easier.

A significant piece of the traditional U.S. lamb market is supplied by imports and they are one-third to half the cost of domestic lamb, but imported lamb do not appear to have as large an effect on the ethnic market supplied by Texas lambs and goats, he said.

Many consumers want lambs at 40-60 pounds, but producers are realizing better margins at 60-80 pounds, Redden said. These market conditions factor into maintaining and inflating strong prices as buyers jockey for specific weight and class lambs.

“It’s a specialty market, and it’s become harder and harder for supplies to meet demand,” he said. “The prices reflect that.”

Goat prices strong, getting stronger

Goat prices continued to experience a price trajectory similar to lamb, Redden said.

“The kid goat market is even brighter than lambs,” he said. “The goat market has been on fire the last several years and getting better and better. Producers don’t understand it, but they’re just riding the wave as far as it will go.”

Unlike Texas’ lamb market, goats have never been part of the traditional meat production apparatus, Reid said. There are no big processing plants or packers, and production feeds non-traditional, primarily ethnic demand.

From January and February, goat prices fluctuated between $3.50-$3.80 per pound compared to a five-year average of $2.50-$2.75 for the same time of season. January-March is typically when prices are the best. Kidding season is just now getting started and most market goats are sold in the summer and fall. 

Goats are lighter, slower-growing animals compared to sheep, Redden said. Market kid goats tend to be lighter than lambs – typically averaging 35-65 pounds – but are achieving comparable prices per head due to higher prices. Some goats have brought over $4 per pound at market.

“There was one down week last year when buyers were worried about the COVID-19 pandemic, but as soon as the orders kept coming in, prices took off and have continued to climb,” Redden said. “There just aren’t enough goats to meet demands.”

Redden said it was noteworthy that even the cull nanny market was very strong, meaning buyers are willing to pay top dollar for less desirable goats. They were selling at $2.20 per pound in February, 85 cents per pound above the five-year February average for 100-pound nanny goats of $1.35 per pound.

Redden said goats, like Texas lambs, are in high demand in major population centers across the state and country. While lambs are more adaptable to other production conditions, western parts of Texas are ideal for goat production due to browse requirements and low internal parasite load.

About 40% of U.S. goat production is located in West Central and West Texas, Redden said. About 30% of goats consumed in the U.S. comes from imports. Australia has been a major player in the import market, but their goats are primarily feral herds, and they aren’t able to increase production to meet the growing demand. As such, imports have very little impact on domestic goat prices.

“You see people with a few hobby goats here and there, but the major producers who are experienced with the infrastructure and know-how to handle a commercial goat herd are generally located in Texas,” he said. “There’s interest in goat production because prices have been so good, but they are a lot of work, and I don’t predict large increases in goat production outside the state.”    

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Healthy Grass Equals Profitable Ranches

 

Family photo on the Blair ranch
The Blair family poses for a family photo on their ranch.
Britton Blair teaches his son Jack how to identify different grass species on their South Dakota ranch.
Britton Blair teaches his son Jack how to identify different grass species on their South Dakota ranch.
Water can make or break a ranch in America’s dry western states. This is especially true for families like the Blairs who graze livestock on rangelands in South Dakota.


“I want to keep all of the rain that falls on this ranch so we can grow as much grass as possible,” said Ed Blair. Now 68, Ed co-manages Blair Brothers Angus Ranch with his brother, son, and nephew.


They run cattle on 40,000 acres of deeded and leased pastures where the Black Hills meet the prairie. Ed’s grandfather and his siblings homesteaded south of Sturgis in 1906, and his father moved to their current “home ranch” in 1954. The family expanded by buy-ing the Two Top Ranch near Belle Fourche in 2014.


This region receives an average of 14 inches of rain per year, although  average” is the key word. “Some years we have to grow grass on four to six inches of rain. It’s not ideal, but I can manage that as long as I’ve got a consistent source of water,” said Ed.


To secure that water, the Blairs started working with the USDA’s Soil Conservation Service (SCS), now the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), in the 1960s. The family has used Farm Bill funding to put conservation practices in place to maximize grass production, including: cross-fencing; livestock watering systems; shelterbelts and fabricated windbreaks; riparian fencing, and multi-species cover crops.


These conservation practices have allowed the Blairs to grow more grass and double their stocking rate in 30 years. Rotating livestock quickly through pastures allows the plants to rest and grow taller. This creates more profitable working lands.


“Ranching is a business as well as a lifestyle,” said Tanse Herrmann, NRCS District Conservationist in Sturgis, who has worked with the Blairs since 2003. “At NRCS, we want to make sure this multi-generational family stays on their land doing what they do best: raising cows and managing natural resources.”


Based on the success on the ranch, Ed’s son, Chad Blair, “hit the ground running with rotational grazing” when he and his wife, Mary, began managing the Two Top Ranch in 2014.


Chad and Mary partnered with the NRCS-led Sage Grouse Initiative to install livestock water tanks, pipelines, and fences through the Environmental Quality Incentives Pro-gram.
“The new water system gives us heavier weaning rates and healthier cattle,” explains Chad. “Plus, it allows us to run cattle here year-round.”


Healthy grasslands also provide valuable ecosystem services for ranchers and rural communities, including wildlife habitat, erosion control, clean water, and healthy soil.
Matt Gottlob, a range and wildlife conservationist with the Sage Grouse Initiative, helped Chad and Mary ensure their fences were wildlife-friendly. Wires are spaced apart or flagged with reflectors so that fences don’t impede migrating deer and pronghorn, or harm upland birds flying low to the ground.


“These ranchlands provide some of the best sage grouse habitat in the state,” said Gottlob.
Two Top is one of five adjoining ranches that have participated in the Sage Grouse Initia-tive. Along with a host of partners including the Bird Conservancy of the Rockies, US Fish and Wildlife Service Partners Program, Northern Great Plains Joint Venture, South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks, and Pheasants Forever, ranchers here have conserved over 105 square-miles of working grazing lands for wildlife.


Chad and Mary have three young children who help out on the ranch and enjoy seeing wildlife near their home. “Our kids are learning the value of not overusing the grass and making it sustainable for the future, just like I learned from my dad and uncle,” said Chad.


The family’s focus on sustaining natural resources earned the Blair Brothers Angus Ranch the South Dakota Leopold Conservation Award and the Public Land Council’s Sagebrush Steppe Stewardship Award. The Blairs were also listed on the 2020 BEEF Top 100 Seedstock list.
“You can help the environment and yourself by doing these programs,” said Chad.


Or as his father, Ed, likes to say: “We take care of the grass, and it takes care of us.”
 
Brianna Randall is a freelance writer based in Missoula, Montana. 
 

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Feral hog eradication assistance available to Buffalo River Watershed landowners in Arkansas

 

By Ryan McGeeney

U of A System Division of Agriculture 

 

Fast Facts: 

  • $2 million in assistance grants to be awarded over the next 5 years 
  • Current application window open until March 26 
  • Additional information on feral hog eradication available through Cooperative Extension Service 

 

LITTLE ROCK — Landowners in the Buffalo River Watershed are eligible to receive assistance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture aimed at eradicating feral hog populations in the area. 

Additionally, as part of the Buffalo River Watershed Enhancement Project, funding for conservation assistance is also currently available to landowners as well as agricultural producers in the watershed who are interested in implementing conservation practices to help maintain and improve water quality.    

 

The sign-up period for conservation practices ends March 26, 2021. Interested landowners should check in with their local USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service field office to apply. 

 

John Pennington, extension water quality educator for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, said there will be multiple sign-up opportunities for this special assistance over the next five years with up to $400,000 additional conservation funding available for qualifying landowners annually. 

 

The importance is that not only can these forms of conservation assistance help protect water quality in the watershed, but they can also improve farm profitability and habitat for native wildlife,” Pennington said. “Also of importance, this opportunity does not come around every day, or even very often.” 

 

The Cooperative Extensions Service, part of the Division of Agriculture, is helping to provide site visits, outreach and information within the project area, as well as providing feral hog control informational resources. 

 

While the funding is potentially available throughout the Buffalo River Watershed, priority areas are Calf Creek, Bear Creek, Lower Big Creek, Tomahawk Creek and Brush Creek sub-watersheds in portions of Baxter, Marion, Pope, Searcy, Stone and Van Buren counties. 

 

The funded conservation practices are intended to increase farm efficiency and reduce nutrients, sediment, and bacteria from moving off the landscape and into tributaries, and align with the recommendations from the Buffalo River Watershed Management Plan. Some examples of supported conservation practices include brush management, prescribed burning and pasture fencing. 

 

Feral hog eradication
To receive assistance with feral hog eradication, landowners should call the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Arkansas Wildlife Services at (501) 835-2318. Wildlife Service technicians use state-of-the-art technology, including remotely triggered enclosure gates, to trap and remove feral hogs from residents’ property.  

 

Other agencies and organizations on the Arkansas Feral Hog Eradication Task Force are available to help. Residents who prefer to learn how to trap hogs themselves using new technologies, and are willing to host a field demonstration, or would like to pick up an Arkansas Feral Hog Handbook, contact your local county extension office (Uaex.uada.edu). 

 

Other steps to help in the eradication of feral hogs and improvement of water quality are to report sightings and kills of feral hogs using the Feral Hog Reporting Survey 123 app from the Arkansas Feral Hog Eradication Task Force, available at  https://www.agriculture.arkansas.gov/arkansas-department-of-agriculture-services/feral-hog/. Learn more about methods for effective control at https://www.uaex.uada.edu/environment-nature/wildlife/feral-hogs.aspx.  

 

To learn more about extension programs in Arkansas, contact your local Cooperative Extension Service agent or visit uaex.uada.edu. Follow us on Twitter at @UAEX_edu 

 

 

About the Division of Agriculture 

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work within the nation’s historic land grant education system.  

  

The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses.   

 

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs to all eligible persons without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.  

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