Agricultural Producers in Five States Will Help Improve Ecosystem Health of Gulf Coast
On December 5, 2011, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is launching an innovative water and wildlife conservation effort along the Gulf Coast of the United States. The new Gulf of Mexico Initiative will focus up to $50 million, over three years, in conservation assistance to farmers and ranchers in priority areas along seven major rivers that drain to the Gulf. All five states along the Gulf Coast are part of this effort, including Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.
USDA will work with a team of local, state and federal partners to deliver this project. Through this effort, Gulf farmers and ranchers will invest in voluntary conservation to provide cleaner water and more abundant wildlife for their neighbors and communities.
NRCS and its conservation partners developed this initiative in response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and President Obama's call to action to help restore the waters, shores and wildlife populations along the Gulf Coast. This effort incorporates what the public and communities have requested through their input into the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force Strategy to restore the Gulf Coast. This initiative is a perfect complement to the Task Force's first-of-its-kind strategy that was released today.
Sixteen priority watersheds in seven major river basins in five states are targeted for participation in the new Gulf of Mexico Initiative. In Louisiana:
Bayou Corne-Grand Bayou Watershed and Bayou St. Vincent-Little Grand Bayou Watershed in the Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary
Bayou Grand Marais Watershed in the Mermentau River Basin
For more information on the Gulf of Mexico Initiative, visit Louisiana's GoMI web page or contact your local Natural Resources Conservation Service office or Soil and Water Conservation District..
Applications Must Be Submitted by January 13, 2012, to be Considered for First Ranking Period of 2012
Agricultural producers interested in the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) should submit applications to their local USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service office by January 13, 2012, to be considered during the first ranking period of 2012.
CSP is offered in all 50 states and the Pacific and Caribbean areas through continuous sign-ups. The program provides many conservation benefits including improvement of water and soil quality, wildlife habit enhancements, and adoption of conservation activities that address the effects of climate change. Eligible lands include cropland, pastureland, rangeland, nonindustrial private forest land, and agricultural land under the jurisdiction of an Indian tribe.
A CSP self-screening checklist is available to help potential applicants determine if CSP is suitable for their operation. The checklist highlights basic information about CSP eligibility requirements, contract obligations, and potential payments. It is available from local NRCS offices and on the CSP web page.
For more information on the Conservation Stewardship Program, contact your local Natural Resources Conservation Service office or Soil and Water Conservation District.
| New Standard Stresses Increased Use of Technology and Local Information |
On December 13, 2011, 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. Proper application of nitrogen and phosphorus offers tremendous benefits to producers and the public, including cost savings to the producer and the protection or improvement of ground and surface water, air quality, soil quality and agricultural sustainability.
The nutrient management conservation practice is an important tool in the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) conservation toolbox. NRCS uses this conservation practice to help farmers and ranchers apply their nutrients more efficiently. Proper management of nitrogen and phosphorus, including the use of organic sources of nitrogen such as animal manure, legumes and cover crops, can save producers money. The nutrient management standard provides a roadmap for NRCS staff and others to help producers apply available nutrient sources in the right amount, from the right source, in the right place, at the right time for maximum agricultural and environmental benefits.
NRCS' nutrient management experts worked with universities, non-government organizations, industry and others to revise the standard to ensure it is scientifically sound. Key changes in the standard include expanding the use of technology to streamline the nutrient management process and allowing states more flexibility in providing site-specific nutrient management planning using local information when working with producers.
Louisiana will adopt the new nutrient management standard by the end of 2012.
For more information about how nutrient management fits into conservation work, visit NRCS' Nutrient and Pest Management web page or contact your local Natural Resources Conservation Service office or Soil and Water Conservation District.