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Maryland State Technical Committee

Maryland State Technical Committee

April 20, 2011

State Conservationist Jon Hall welcomed 29 attendees of the State Technical Advisory Committee (STAC). Members introduced themselves.

Jon informed the committee that the federal budget is still uncertain. Two programs are no longer being funded- Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) and Watershed program.

Sub-Committee Reports

Forestry - Steve Koehn

  • Requirements for landowner management plans are in draft, the goal is to simplify the plans and meet all 3 agency’s needs.
  • Nationally, the TSP process is being improved to qualify as many people as possible
  • The Woodland Incentives Program can now piggyback on EQIP, providing landowners up to 90% cost share.
  • The Chesapeake Bay Conference on Forestry indentified several areas of importance:
    • Target forest buffers in State wildlife action plan and NRCS priority areas
    • Improve outreach for forest buffers
    • Enhance technical capacity
    • Incentivize riparian forest buffer sign-ups
  • Forest Service and NRCS have signed a MOU for delivering technical service.
  • A Forest Buffers Report will soon be released detailing a long-term study and monitoring of buffer performance over time.

Nutrient Management – Bill Angstadt

  • Chesapeake Bay Strategic Watershed Action Teams (SWAT) are guaranteed funding although no agreement has been signed.
    • Rob McAfee is leading the development of the agreements and updates the group
      • NHQ has provided a template for all SWAT agreements
      • Maryland is coordinating with Delaware  Considering fee-for-service for CNMPs
      • July 1 deadline, but the process is being accelerated to ensure funding isn’t taken away
      • Maryland agreements are with MDA, Delaware’s with the Districts
      • Experienced planners with be moved into the SWAT positions and their positions will be backfilled with new staff
  • Adoption of the National Nutrient Management Strategy and drainage water management practice
    • Tom Morgart reports that the practice will be implemented as it becomes technically feasible, currently there are no qualified TSPs
    • Suggests holding a training during the 2011 Crop School in November
  • NACD tracking protocol o Attempt to account for every farmers conservation practices
  • National 590 Standard expected May 1, after national release, nutrient subcommittee will update 590 for Maryland
  • Chesapeake Bay Ag work group- will offer Maryland tiered 590 program as a template
  • Certainty Framework being developed by USDA and EPA
    • Will help farmers understand what needs to be done to meet state water quality standards, ensure them that if they do the required practices in x years, they will be in regulation
    • Support for certainty coming from Chief White and Ann Mills

Outreach- Genevieve Backus

  • FY11 program sign-up has been announced for a variety of programs through news releases and advertisements
  • Target outreach to organic producers was provided through specific mailing list and announcements in newsletters
  • New GRP fact sheet is available
  • Know Your Farmer Know Your Food (KYF2) - USDA has launched an Initiative called Know Your Farmer Know Your Food. It’s a new way of looking at USDA’s work. For NRCS, EQIP Organic, high tunnels, and FRPP are good fits for the initiative. Future marketing of these practices/programs will seek to show the link between a family’s food on their table and the producer who raises the crop or livestock.

Resources- Anne Lynn

State Resource Assessment Presentation. Effort will be led by Anne Lynn, Amanda Moore, and Michelle Guck. Purpose is to use GIS to identify land use in the state and associated resource concerns. Results will be tied to the Maryland budget allocation and used to focus priorities and programs.

  • Anne requested Geospatial data from partners
  • Steve Strano has some forest layers and suggested MD DNR/Wildlife may have more. Also suggests a request be made to the data keepers and be available through several partners
  • Jon would like shoreline captured under the “data needs” slide.
  • Bill S suggests talking to Washington College for data sets,
  • The Assessment will likely be repeated every year.

Programs

Tom Morgart announced that the State Technical Committees may be reformatted in the next farm Bill. Asks members for thoughts on changes. Amanda Moore suggests there is a subcommittee for each resource concern.

EQIP

  • MD had $5.8 million allocated, received $12 million in application requests, a record.

CBWI

  • MD had $9.4 million allocated. All but $700,000 has been spent. The 700,000 will be held for overages. Received $18 million in application requests. • EQIP and CBWI funding largely went to animal waste practices and poultry

CCPI

  • Applications for forestry practices up 100%
  • New Proposals still awaiting NHQ selection.

CIG

  • 14 proposals pertaining to Maryland received; all have been State reviewed and are now at NHQ.
  • There will be a State CIG offered soon.

AMA

  • Obligated $61,000 for seasonal high tunnels and supporting practices 
    • Can now be heated at owners expense
    • 6 applications funded, 30 unfunded

CStweardshipP

  • First round sing-up resulted in 27 applications preapproved, totaling 12,700 acres.
  • Currently doing field assessments
  • 27 applications are pending additional round

CSecurityP

  • NRCS is now working to remediate 2006 OIG audit finding that 15 funded participants were ineligible
  • The state has sent out repayment letters, most landowners will appeal.
  • More than 500 participants in the state are not in jeopardy and are continuing to benefit from the program.

RC&D

  • Eliminated from this year’s budget. RC&D’s are deciding whether they will continue to exist without USDA funding. All NRCS employees have been reassigned to the Farm Bill program staff for the remainder of the fiscal year.

Easement Programs

WRP- Tiffany Davis

  • $6.9 million allocated, nearly 3 times the number of applications as last year.  Currently analyzing the 3rd round applications to see who’s eligible and rank.

FRPP

  • $3.4 million allocation, which was more than the state anticipated being able to use. Currently only $500,000 in applications.

GRP

  • Currently have 1 application, several more are in the cue
  • Working with FSA on increased outreach.

Bill Satterfield asks how many funded applications were for new producers. Tom explains that NRCS is required to spend a minimum of 5% of financial assistance on socially disadvantaged and small and beginning farmers, each. Maryland obligated 10% of funds to socially disadvantaged and 7-8% to small and beginning farmers.

How is the field meeting the ever increasing interest in NRCS programs? Jon Hall explains that the staff is stressed.

  • Mid-level management has been consolidated to increase the number of people who can work with landowners.
  • The state is mobilizing staff in less busy counties to move to the busiest counties. Training is being provided to establish a base-level of technical ability so people are able to move around.
  • MDA is getting its staff certified as planners so NRCS doesn’t have to review their plans.
  • Applications are accepted year round to spread the workload
  • Large number of applications shows a need for continued funding

Bill Satterfield asks how NGOs can fit in. Steve Strano suggests that outreach be carefully planned to ensure that we don’t get a flood of interest when there’s no money to give. Louise Lawrence reports the MACS program has $10 million in financial assistance not being used.

New business

Jon Hall announces an interim standard for gasification will be out next week, and an energy standard will be released soon. Meeting adjourned at 11:30.