Friday, September 10, 2021

Veterinary College Common Application Service Deadline Extended by Natural Disasters

WASHINGTON, D.C., September 10, 2021 -- The American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC) has extended the 2022 Veterinary Medical College Application Service(VMCAS) deadline about two weeks because of the impact of natural disasters on the process. The new VMCAS 2022 application deadline is Wednesday, September 29, 2021, at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time for all applicants.

 

The decision to extend the deadline was made because the destruction and flooding caused by Hurricane Ida in the south and the northeast has posed significant obstacles for some VMCAS applicants, according to AAVMC Director for Admissions and Recruitment Affairs Ms. Diana Dabdub. Many applicants have been forced to evacuate their homes and may still be without electricity, she said, and some colleges and universities were closed and are just returning to normal operations.

 

“We hope that all applicants and their families are safe and that those who are facing natural disaster-related issues can recover quickly,” said Dabdub.

 

Because the deadline extension shortens the amount of time schools will have to review applications, applicants in non-affected areas are encouraged to complete and submit their VMCAS applications as soon as possible, despite the deadline extension. There will be no additional deadline extensions this cycle.

 

Dabdub said applicants should submit their VMCAS applications as soon as they are completed regardless of whether VMCAS has received academic transcripts or electronic letters of reference (eLOR). 

 

Other provisions and caveats associated with the deadline extension include:

 

  • There is no extension related to GRE scores, which must be received by 9/15/21.
  • Applicants must reach out directly to schools that require the Casper test for deadline clarification.
  • WES evaluations must be received by the extended application deadline of 9/29/21.
  • All academic transcripts must be received (or postmarked) by the extended application deadline of 9/29/21.

Applicants with questions about the deadline extension should contact the Veterinary Medical College Application Service (VMCAS) at 617-612-2884 or email: vmcasinfo@vmcas.org.

About the AAVMC:

 

The member institutions of the American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC) promote and protect the health and wellbeing of people, animals and the environment by advancing the profession of veterinary medicine and preparing new generations of veterinarians to meet the evolving needs of a changing world. Founded in 1966, the AAVMC represents more than 40,000 faculty, staff and students across the global academic veterinary medical community. Our member institutions include Council on Education (COE) accredited veterinary medical colleges and schools in the United States, Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, Europe, Asia, Australia, and New Zealand as well as departments of veterinary science and departments of comparative medicine in the U.S.

 

Thursday, September 9, 2021

USDA Expands Assistance to Cover Feed Transportation Costs for Drought-Impacted Ranchers



09/08/2021 02:00 PM EDT

WASHINGTON, September 8, 2021— In response to the severe drought conditions in the West and Great Plains, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced today its plans to help cover the cost of transporting feed for livestock that rely on grazing. USDA is updating the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honey Bees and Farm-raised Fish Program (ELAP) to immediately cover feed transportation costs for drought impacted ranchers. USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) will provide more details and tools to help ranchers get ready to apply at their local USDA Service Center later this month at fsa.usda.gov/elap.

Friday, August 27, 2021

USDA Assists Farmers, Ranchers, and Communities Affected by Recent Flooding in Tennessee

 



WASHINGTON, August 27, 2021 - To help residents, farmers, and ranchers affected by the recent flooding in Tennessee, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has directed the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to aid recovery efforts. USDA staff in the regional, state, and county offices are responding and providing a variety of program flexibilities and other assistance to residents, agricultural producers and impacted communities.

Food safety guidance:

USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is helping affected residents take steps to reduce their risk of foodborne illness as they return to their homes after severe weather and flooding.

  • Drink only bottled water that has not been in contact with flood water. Screw caps are not waterproof, so discard any bottled water that may have come in contact with flood water. If you don’t have bottled water, learn how to safely boil or disinfect water at FSIS Consumer's Guide to Food Safety: Severe Storms and Hurricanes webpage.
  • Discard any food or beverage that is not in a waterproof container if there is any chance it may have been in contact with flood water. Containers with screw caps, snap lids, pull tops and crimped caps are not waterproof.
  • Undamaged, commercially prepared foods in all-metal cans and retort pouches such as flexible, shelf-stable juice or seafood pouches, can be saved by following the steps at the FSIS Consumer's Guide to Food Safety: Severe Storms and Hurricanes webpage.
  • Thoroughly wash all metal pans, utensils and ceramic dishes that came in contact with flood water with hot soapy water. Rinse, then sanitize, by boiling them in clean water or by immersing them for 15 minutes in a solution of one of tablespoon unscented, liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of drinking water.
  • Discard wooden cutting boards, plastic utensils, baby bottle nipples and pacifiers that may have come in contact with flood water – they cannot be saved after contact with flood water.

Risk management and disaster assistance for agricultural operations:

USDA offers several risk management and disaster assistance options to help producers recover after disasters.

Producers who suffer losses and whose crops are covered for the 2021 crop year by the Federal Crop Insurance Program, a partnership between USDA’s Risk Management Agency and private companies and agents, or the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP), administered by USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA), are asked to report crop damage to their crop insurance agent or local FSA office, respectively, within 72 hours of discovering damage and to follow up in writing within 15 days.

Livestock and perennial crop producers often have more limited risk management options available, so there are several disaster programs for them. Key programs offered by FSA include:

  • The Livestock Indemnity Program and the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybee and Farm-raised Fish Program reimburses producers for a portion of the value of livestock, poultry and other animals that were killed or severely injured by a natural disaster or loss of feed and grazing acres.
  • The Tree Assistance Program provides cost share assistance to rehabilitate or replant orchards and vineyards when storms kill or damage the trees, vines or bushes. NAP or Federal Crop Insurance often only covers the crop and not the plant.
  • The Emergency Conservation Program and the Emergency Forest Restoration Program can assist landowners and forest stewards with financial and technical assistance to restore damaged farmland or forests.
  • FSA also offers a variety of direct and guaranteed farm loans, including operating and emergency farm loans, to producers unable to secure commercial financing. Loans can help producers replace essential property, purchase inputs like livestock, equipment, feed and seed, cover family living expenses or refinance farm-related debts and other needs.

It is also critical that producers keep accurate records to document damage or loss and to report losses to their local USDA Service Center as soon as possible.

Additionally, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service can provide financial resources through its Environmental Quality Incentives Program to help with immediate needs and long-term support to help recover from natural disasters and conserve water resources. USDA can also assist local government sponsors with the cost of recovery efforts like debris removal and streambank stabilization to address natural resource concerns and hazards through the Emergency Watershed Protection Program.

On farmers.gov, the Disaster Assistance Discovery ToolDisaster Assistance-at-a-Glance fact sheet (PDF, 4.6 MB) and Farm Loan Discovery Tool can help producers and landowners determine program or loan options. For assistance with a crop insurance claim, producers and landowners should contact their crop insurance agent. For FSA and NRCS programs, they should contact their local USDA Service Center.

Other USDA assistance:

USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has information about Protecting Livestock During a Disaster and is also helping to meet the emergency needs of pets and their owners. Inspectors are coordinating closely with zoos, breeders, and other licensed facilities in the region to ensure the safety of animals in their care.

USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) is standing by to work with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), as well as requesting states and local authorities, to provide emergency nutrition assistance and other nutrition program flexibilities to assist people in need.

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.

Thursday, August 26, 2021

NCLA Asks 10th Cir. to Declare USDA’s Livestock RFID Federal Advisory Committees Violated FACA


R-CALF USA, et al. v. U.S. Department of Agriculture, et al.

 

Washington, DC (August 26, 2021) – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and its subagency, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), continue to violate federal law in their efforts to mandate “radio frequency identification” (RFID) eartags on livestock. The New Civil Liberties Alliance, a nonpartisan, nonprofit civil rights group, has filed an opening brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit over these agencies’ violation of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA). The brief asks the Court to declare that USDA and APHIS established and utilized the “Cattle Traceability Working Group” (CTWG) and “Producer Traceability Council” (PTC) in violation of FACA.

 

In 2017, USDA began efforts to eliminate the use of most of the tried-and-true traceability and identification techniques approved previously as being acceptable for the interstate movement of livestock. In particular, USDA and APHIS concluded that the livestock industry should phase out the use of metal eartags, brands, backtags, and similar low-cost forms of identification, and convert to the exclusive use of expensive RFID eartags, with such a mandate to become effective as of January 1, 2023. These agencies arranged for the creation of the CTWG—and later the PTC—to assist them with that transition effort. FACA, adopted by Congress to further the goals of transparency and fairness, requires any such advisory committees “established” or “utilized” by a federal agency to comply with a wide range of procedural requirements, such as having balanced viewpoints and keeping certain records and making them publicly available.

 

On May 13, 2021, District Judge Freudenthal erred by ruling in favor of USDA and APHIS and dismissing R-CALF’s FACA claims. NCLA also believes the district court abused its discretion in applying a Local Rule to deny our clients’ repeated requests for discovery. NCLA has requested that the Tenth Circuit enter judgment in favor of R-CALF USA and the four independent ranchers, Donna and Tracy Hunt and Kenny and Roxy Fox, on their claims that the CTWG and PTC are federal advisory committees covered by FACA. To deter future FACA abuse, NCLA also seeks an order from the Tenth Circuit prohibiting the agencies from using any of the work product generated by the CTWG and PTC in future endeavors to force RFID requirements on livestock producers. 

 

NCLA released the following statement: 

 

“USDA and APHIS are well aware that the livestock industry opposes their efforts to mandate the use of high-cost RFID eartags. They created the CTWG and PTC as part of their strategy to circumvent that opposition and to make their astroturf efforts appear to be grassroots. Those efforts violated FACA, and the agencies should be held accountable. We are confident that the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals will recognize these agencies’ actions for what they were, enjoin them from engaging in such behavior, and prohibit them from using the unlawfully obtained committee work product in their future regulatory activities.”  

— Harriet Hageman, Senior Litigation Counsel, NCLA

 

For more information visit the case page here.

 

ABOUT NCLA

 

NCLA is a nonpartisan, nonprofit civil rights group founded by prominent legal scholar Philip Hamburger to protect constitutional freedoms from violations by the Administrative State. NCLA’s public-interest litigation and other pro bono advocacy strive to tame the unlawful power of state and federal agencies and to foster a new civil liberties movement that will help restore Americans’ fundamental rights. 


Monday, August 2, 2021

Annual Texas Sheep and Goat Expo set Aug. 20-21


Texas A&M AgriLife event draws nationwide audience to San Angelo

 

The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service has announced the dates and theme for the seventh annual Texas Sheep and Goat Expo. The event is set for Aug. 20-21 at the 1st Community Federal Credit Union Spur Arena at the San Angelo Fairgrounds.


“Feeding and Nutrition” will be the theme of this year’s event, with a focus on sheep and goat market prices. 

“We are excited to be planning the return of the industry’s preeminent expo event,” said Robert Pritz, event coordinator and AgriLife Extension regional program leader in San Angelo. “We were thrilled by how well last year’s event went after we had to go to an online, virtual format for the first time due to COVID-19 and social distancing guidelines, but we’re thrilled about the prospect of getting to meet face-to-face once more and fellowshipping with each other.”


Texas Sheep and Goat Expo

The event draws producers from across Texas, out of state, and as far away as Australia. It is the largest event of its type in Texas and one of the largest sheep and goat industry educational programs in the world, said Pritz. 


The expo will feature guest speakers, educational seminars and numerous live sessions for participants to choose from. The event covers a range of industry topics, including addressing the concerns and challenges facing today’s producer in light of recent events, as well as the exciting changes happening in the industry involving technological advances and new services.


“New this year are concurrent sessions dedicated to novice sheep and goat producers, our Sheep 101 Series,” Pritz said.


Sheep and Goat Field Day

The 48th Sheep and Goat Field Day will also be held in conjunction with the expo. The event will be held the morning of Aug. 20 at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center in San Angelo. The free field day allows participants to hear from experts and observe firsthand the center’s sheep and goats, livestock guardian dog program and the recently expanded services of the Bill Sims wool lab. 


For more information, contact Pritz at 325-653-4576 or check the official website, https://agrilife.org/agrilifesheepandgoat/, which will be updated as more plans are made.


KFGC Annual Field Day August 17

Lincoln county producer Bill Holtzclaw will be hosting the KFGC Annual Field day. 4610 HWY 590, Stanford KY. The program begins at 4:30 pm and includes Grazing Summer Annuals, Chris Teutsch, Alfalfa Weed Control, JD Green, Establishing Alfalfa, Ray Smith, and Making High Quality Baleage: Summary of Baleage Farm Sampling, Jimmy Henning. Register by calling 606-365-2447, this event will be a CAIP qualified educational meeting. Find more details here

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

New podcast celebrates the working dogs

 




For millennia, humans have leveraged relationships with canine partners to make a living from the land with greater efficiency, safety and productivity. Whether herding livestock, guarding flocks, or eliminating pests and warning of unseen dangers, these unsung heroes of agriculture have been critical to our survival and success.

Now, a new podcast gives working farm dogs the credit they deserve.

Farm Dog explores the fascinating history and current practice of humans working with dogs to make a living from the land. Its biweekly interview format lets the audience listen in to chats with experts covering individual breed descriptions, dog training advice, real world farm and ranch experiences, and more. Herding dogs and livestock guardian dogs (LGD's) are frequent topics, but terriers, hunting dogs, and good ol' all-around farm dogs are up for discussion, too. “If it’s a dog, and it produces, protects, or provides for our rural lives, we'll talk about it!” says Aaron Steele, the creator and host of Farm Dog.

Steele, who is also the founder of Goats On The Go®, a national brand of targeted goat grazing (AKA “goat rental” or “goatscaping”) operations, says the motivation for creating the podcast was a bit self-serving. “As the number of livestock on our farm has kept growing, and my three sons have kept getting older, I’ve come to realize that I’m going to need some canine help when the boys are all out of the house. I was considering getting my first herding dog puppy and realized I didn’t know anything about how to find a good one, much less train it. Off I went to do the research, which was eventually going to lead to phone calls and conversations with experts anyway, so I thought, ‘Why not bring an audience along for the ride?’”

So why not a podcast exclusively about herding dogs? “Because the rest of the working farm dog world is just too fascinating to ignore!” Steele points to the ancient history of livestock guardian breeds and the practical virtues of terriers and “earthdogs” as reasons to broaden the show’s scope. “These dogs are nearly as old as agriculture itself in some cases, and it’s impossible to untangle their traits and heritage from history and culture. There’s just so much good stuff to talk about,” says Steele.

Listeners can find Farm Dog at anchor.fm/farmdog or on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts and most other podcast apps.

For more information, contact: Aaron Steele, Goats On The Go, LC 515-257-6846, aaron@GoatsOnTheGo.com



Monday, June 7, 2021

Western Drought Forces Farmers to Make Tough Decisions

As water sources dry up, farmers are culling herds, stripping trees of fruit and forgoing planting crops this year.

By Shelby Vittek, Modern Farmer

Due to the worsening drought sweeping across the West, Sonoma County farmers David and Kayta Plescia were forced to cancel their vegetable CSA program. The couple, who run Green Valley Community Farm in Sebastopol, says they simply didn’t have enough water to plant the necessary vegetables this year.

“We got a third of the usual rainfall [during the rainy season] and that was after last year, which was also very low,” says David. “The two combined did a number on people’s water sources.”

The farm’s catchment pond, their irrigation source, didn’t fill with water this year. “That’s the first time it’s ever happened,” he says. “We have one-twentieth of the water we usually have.”

Farmers of all kinds are being forced to make similarly tough decisions as water supplies dwindle. Ranchers are trying to stay ahead of the curve by culling their herds. Apple growers are dropping fruit on young trees in an attempt to keep them alive. Almond and peach growers are doing the same.

According to the most recent US Drought Monitor report, 96 percent of the West is suffering from at least some level of drought. California and Nevada are now 100 percent in drought after two years of exceptionally dry conditions. Reservoir levels in both states are dismally low, intensifying the concern for wildfire season, which runs between May and October. Already, there have been more fires and acres burned in California than this time last year.

Farmers in other states are affected too. In January, New Mexico officials warned farmers and ranchers who rely on water from the Rio Grande and other rivers to prepare to go without it this year, recommending “that farmers along the Rio Chama and in the Middle Valley that don’t absolutely need to farm this year, do not farm.” Utah irrigation water providers are implementing increased fines for overuse. And in Idaho, which isn’t faring as badly as other states, farmers in central and southern counties are preparing for crop disaster losses.

Conditions are especially dire in California, where 41 of 58 counties are under a drought state of emergency. This year’s drought is similar to years past, with one caveat, says Dan Sumner, UC Davis professor of agricultural and resource economics and director of the UC Agricultural Issues Center. “Sonoma County has been hit more this time,” he says, “and that is less common.”

It’s also affecting the farm counties of the Central Valley, home to some of California’s richest agricultural land, where farmers have long relied on water from the US Bureau of Reclamation’s Central Valley Project (CVP) for irrigation. Last week, the bureau cut allocations for some farmers to zero.

“Water is very hard to come by,” says Vincent Ricchiuti, chief operations officer for P-R Farms and Enzo Olive Oil in Fresno, California. “This year is drastically worse [than last year].”

The persistent droughts led Ricchiuti to install a new system called AgMonitor in 2015. The technology takes into account the weather, age of tree and type of soil, and uses additional data from probes that measure soil moisture to determine how much water to distribute. “The goal is not to overwater or underwater,” he says. “It’s to really zero in on irrigation.” That helps a limited water supply last longer.

Ricchiuti says the droughts mean farmers have to be more conscious about what they’re planting and where they’re planting it. At Green Valley Community Farm, the Plescias have applied for a cannabis permit, which would allow them to grow a crop that requires much less water. They’re also considering moving their vegetable farm.

“The site that we’re on is untenable for a vegetable farm business, we’ve realized,” says David, who says he’s eyeing another location that has a more reliable water supply. As renters, the Plescias have more flexibility than landowners, some of whom operate on family farms that have run on the same land for several generations.

California’s recurring drought and wildfire conditions led fiber artist and farmer Leslie Adkins to relocate her Heartfelt Fiber Farm. Last year, as the wildfires ravaged Sonoma and Napa counties, she made the difficult decision to move her small flock of sheep, goats and alpaca from California to Illinois. 

“We were originally thinking of Oregon or Washington, but the writing on the wall in the West, with the megadrought, has been there for a while,” says Adkins, who has a graduate degree in environmental studies. “My family decided we needed to go somewhere, somewhere where we could start over, maybe on a smaller scale, that would be less affected farming-wise by this climate change that’s everywhere.”

Adkins believes we’ll continue to see more farmers become climate refugees as droughts and rising temperatures persist. “I just reached my own personal conclusion, and I’m an optimist by nature, but I have concluded that there’s not a future for farming in California,” she says.

UC Davis’ Sumner says it’s not time to worry just yet. “It could become more severe, but that is a few years away,” he says. “Droughts in California have been part of agriculture for a very long time…California is a wonderful place for many crops and that has not changed at all.”


Thursday, June 3, 2021

10 Tips for Resource Stewardship Planning on Your Farm





By Nate Birt

Vice President

Trust In Food, a Farm Journal initiative

 

Jun 03, 2021


American farmers are conservationists at heart, but it can be a challenge to know where to start when it comes to conservation planning. Finding the right technical assistance and determining whether a conservation practice actually works for your land isn’t always easy.


The new Resource Stewardship Planning Guide, backed by NRCS science and developed by the editors at Farm Journal, is now available to help. This free workbook is the first in a three-part series published as part of America’s Conservation Ag Movement, a public-private partnership that helps producers use profitable and conservation-minded practices. The Soil Health Guide is currently available, and a Water Quality Guide will be available soon.

Here are 10 tips from this new interactive workbook—available in digital format to download for free.


Tip 1: See what other farmers are doing

Learning from other producers’ conservation experiences is a great way to evaluate what might work in for you. In this workbook, you’ll find plenty of stories from farmers across the U.S., including row crop producers from the Midwest, cattle ranchers from the Plains, and more.


Tip 2: Make a plan and write it down

Check out pages 4-7 for a primer on the process of conservation planning. Then fill out workbook pages 8-10 to see where your own farm stands and to identify some practical next steps you might take. There’s a cheat sheet on page 11 with some examples to get those gears turning!


Tip 3: Same farm, different land types

A farm is rarely composed of a single giant parcel. Instead, it often spans soil types, terrains, and counties. That’s why it’s important to know where you are and what type of land within a field you’re dealing with. Page 12 breaks down four common categories: cropland; associated agricultural lands; grazing, pastureland, and rangeland; and animal feeding operations.


Tip 4: Scout for conservation opportunities with cropland

If you raise crops such as corn or soybeans, pages 13-16 are for you. Starting with a soil loss assessment, you can begin to identify where conservation in your fields can deliver the strongest ROI. This section will also help you take stock of unique attributes of individual fields, such as proximity to adjacent bodies of water. The flow chart on page 15 can help you determine what you need and who can help.


Tip 5: Reduce costs through associated ag lands

Some spots in fields have notorious problems like ponding, erosion, or poor productivity. In these places, it might make sense to consider how you might save a precious resource—capital. Pages 17-21 provide insights on associated ag lands and illustrate how farmers are reimaging them for better lands and a better bottom line.


Tip 6: Grazing opportunities

Fencing is an infrastructure investment that NRCS programs can use to help livestock producers. From pages 23-27, you’ll discover that conservation planning isn’t just for  row crop—it applies to every farm or ranch, albeit with its own specific toolbox of best management practices.


Tip 7: Stewardship spans feed, manure, and more

If you raise livestock, then feed handling, waste management, and other activities have a central role in conservation planning. Learn how to integrate stewardship into these staples of farm life from pages 28-36. Then meet hog producers from South Dakota who are putting these principles to work.


Tip 8: Rent land? Engage the owner

Conservation might seem like a big investment of time and money, but in many cases, stewardship begins with an evaluation of what you—and your landlord—care most about when it comes to the farm. Pages 37-40 illustrate practical ways to start a conservation about rented land to ensure both parties benefit.


Tip 9: Pencil it out

If you’re skeptical about whether conservation can have positive financial benefits, check out page 41. There is a step-by-step example of how stewardship can be a win-win for your business and the natural resources you manage.


Tip 10: Find a trusted adviser

Now that you’ve explored the many ways in which conservation planning can make a difference for farms like yours, it’s time to ask: Who can help me do that? From pages 43-46, you’ll find practical tips for locating the right kind of technical service provider in your local area. There are plenty of links so that you can do your own research online.


Interested in learning more about how conservation can help your farm? Click here to get your free guide to explore what the next step of your own conservation journey might be.


More Information

America’s Conservation Ag Movement is organized by Trust In Food, a Farm Journalinitiative, in partnership with the Farm Journal Foundation. Financial and technical support is provided by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service and leading agribusinesses, food companies and nonprofit organizations.

Natural Resources Conservation Service

 

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.