Andrew Burnett, NJDFW, Audrey Moore, US EPA Region 2, Bill Angstadt, Growmark FS, Blaire Langston, NJDEP/DWQ/BPR, Bonnie McDevitt, NJ Water Assoc., Brian Cowden, Trout Unlimited, Brian McLendon, NJDEP, Bryan Stimpson, NRCS, Carrie Mosley, NRCS, Charles Roohr, NJ SADC, Christine Hall, NRCS, Dan Mull, NRCS, Dave Clapp, NJDA, Diane Gunson, Kingfisher Farm, Fran Grasso, NRCS, Francis Rapa, NJCF, Gail Bartok, NRCS, Henry DuBois, Spring Brook Farms, Howard Henderson, USDA-RD, Jean Lynch, NJAS, Jon Klischies, NJ State Forest Service, Kathleen Hitchner, NJDEP, Kathy Hale, NJWSA (via telephone), Kristina Heinemann, US EPA Region 2, Kristen Meistrell, NJAS, Michelle Pedano, NRCS, Mona Peterson, NRCS, Nancy Coles, USDA FSA, Nancy Paolini, NRCS, Robert Dobbs, NJACD, Stephen Boyer, NJDEP/DWQ/BPR, Steve Eisenhauer, NLT, Tim Fekete, NJDA SSCC (via telephone)
Welcome & Introductions - Carrie Mosley
Carrie Mosley opened the meeting at 1:10 pm and thanked everyone for attending the State Technical Committee (STC) meeting. The business meeting was preceded by a tour of Doug Mefaffey’s nursery operation in Cumberland County and Spring Brook Farm owned and operated by the DuBois family in Salem County.
The Minutes from March 5, 2014 were accepted and approved with no changes.
Fiscal Year 2014 Budget Status - Carrie Mosley
Carrie explained that the Farm Bill was passed in February and we still do not have a lot of details to share today. What we do know is Congress passes a bill to authorize funding for 2014 using the prior guidance found in the 2008 Farm Bill. When a Farm Bill is passed by Congress, the Secretary of Agriculture divides the responsibilities amongst the USDA agencies, and each agency will develop rules and regulations to support the programs. We are still waiting for the rules to be developed for the 2014 Farm Bill programs. Carrie then explained that the origination of the State Technical Committees is found in the Farm Bill and how the committee impacts the use of Farm Bill programs in each state. Since there were many new members she gave a brief history of NRCS.
The conservation programs in the Farm Bill also provide half of the NRCS support costs to pay for the New Jersey staff and overhead. The other half comes from other technical assistance activities such as the Natural Resources Inventory and Soil Survey.
2014 Farm Bill Programs Update - Gail Bartok
Gail Bartok presented a power point presentation showing potential spending for 2014 Farm Bill programs (Attachment A). The presentation explained what fund pools were available and offered with 2014 program dollars that had not yet been spent. The total amount of requests for Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) funding in 2014 is $6.5 million and funds available for spending are $6.1 million.
As of today, NRCS has received 258 applications and plans to fund 181 of these applications. NRCS plans to fund all CAP, all energy, soil health, SHT, GWW/B Turtle. All socially disadvantaged applications will be funded also. As a comparison, NRCS received $4 million for EQIP in 2013.
CRP, CREP, SAFE Activity – Nancy Coles
June 9 signup 46 opened and ends Sept. 30, 2014. CRP Continuous sign-up ends Sept. 30, 2018. One extension in Frenchtown office is eligible and is voluntary. The crop history requirement has changed and 2008-2013 is now used as cropping history to be eligible for the program. Nancy distributed a report (Attachment B) and June 2014 FSA Fact Sheet (Attachment C).
Sandy Recovery – Floodplain Easements– Gail Bartok
Signup 1 of FPE occurred in spring of 2013. All applicants must have a public sponsor in order to be considered for funding. Funds to purchase 17 easements were received in December 2013. Phase 1 activities include appraisals, survey, environmental database searches and easement purchases are underway right now for the Round 1 FPE signups. During signup 1, 36 applications were received. A total of 17 were funded: 16 in the Baypoint Area in Cumberland County and one agricultural parcel in Hunterdon County. The Baypoint land is a large section of flood prone peninsula which will be preserved and restored to natural habitat for Red Knot and Horseshoe crabs. Purchases must be complete by 5/2015 and restoration must be complete by 9/2016.
Phase 2 activities include demolition and restoration on the purchased easement parcels. .
Signup 2 of FPE closed in April 2014, 9 more parcels were submitted to NHQ for funding. NHQ notification of funding for Round 2 is expected at the end of July.
Regional Conservation Partnership Planning – Carrie Mosley
This program is an opportunity offered in the new Farm Bill. It makes existing Farm Bill conservation programs available to other groups who are also implementing conservation to leverage existing local efforts. Partners in academia, nonprofits, state and local government, etc. can submit a proposal to target and use NRCS programs in their areas. NJ hosted an information session last week and partners interested in learning about this new opportunity were invited to participate.
Deadlines (Attachment D) – pre-proposals due July 14, 2014
Pre-proposal selections made – 7/28/14
Full proposals Due – 9/26/14
Full proposal selection 10/17/14
There was some discussion on grants and matching funds.
NJ Highlands Delaware River Project Update – Dan Mull/Christine Hall
Last year at the June State Technical Committee meeting, Maria Collazo and Christine Hall gave a presentation on the NRCS 2013 State Resource Assessment and how it included an opportunity to submit a special request for additional funding. We submitted the New Jersey Highlands Delaware River priority area proposal. This area has a lot of partner interest and significant agricultural land for potential projects. We recently received news that we may be receiving some of the funding we had requested through that proposal.
Dan Mull explained how the Wallkill River Watershed Management Group built a strong working relationship with the Hackettstown NRCS office. They are now working closely with NRCS in their target watersheds under a MOU and will be one of the partners we continue to work with when these new funds become available.
Outreach to Livestock Operations –Christine Hall
Christine discussed how the Farm Bill mandates that 60% of EQIP funding nationally must be used to provide conservation assistance to livestock producers. New Jersey historically has been unable to spend 60% of our EQIP funds within the state on livestock producers because of the reducing number of livestock producers within our state. Christine led a discussion on how best for NRCS to outreach and engage the existing number of livestock producers within New Jersey.
She reported on an earlier NRCS outreach effort to Livestock operators in the Raritan Watershed. New Jersey Animal Waste Management Rule required that all large livestock operations were required to have an animal waste management plan. The North Jersey RC&D worked with the New Jersey Department of Agriculture by comparing FA1 forms (Farmland Tax Assessment forms) to identify owners with livestock in the Raritan Watershed and compared this with the list of permitted operations with DEP.
The data demonstrated that only about 1/3 of livestock producers in the Raritan had come forward to report that they have developed their required animal waste management plan. It is believed that many are waiting to see if the rules are enforced. Most of these are not necessarily out of compliance with rules but are just reluctant to report. It was also discussed that the form is not easy to complete, requires a recent soil test and also requires reporting the details of where manure will be spread.
Waters of US Rule & EPA/ACOE/NRCS MOU – Carrie Mosley
Carrie gave a presentation on new EPA/ACOE/NRCS Waters of the US Proposed rule, which included a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) clarifying that 56 NRCS conservation practices are considered “normal farming activities” and are therefore not regulated under section 404 of the Clean Water Act. (Attachment E). Kristina Heinemann explained that other NRCS practices not listed are either no benefit to Water Quality or do not affect Water Quality. Because the State of NJ has assumed the regulatory authority for the Clean Water Act from EPA, this new MOU does not apply to NJ. Conversations with NJDEP are underway to see how we can streamline the process of implementing conservation practices.
Carrie reviewed a list of common conservation practices that we implement that are exempt. (Attachment E).
Cape May Plant Materials Center Update – Christine Hall
Christine reported on the status of the Cape May Plant Materials Center (PMC). The PMC services many states and focuses on conservation and restoration in coastal areas. Due to budget shortages, there was a threat of the Cape May PMC closing but the result is that it WILL NOT close. There will be less staff and more narrow focus on coastal issues Non-coastal plant material development needs will be handled by the other three PMCs in our northeast region. These other PMCs are in New York, West Virginia and Maryland. A regional advisory board will be created to assess the needs of the northeast and then help the four PMCs in the northeast region develop their business plans. Carrie is the leader of our Regional Advisory Board.
Audubon – Jean Lynch reported that they received a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to work in the Delaware River watershed in both the National Water Quality Initiative area and Hammonton.
NJ State Forest Service - Jon Klischies mentioned that state forestry staff have been working with NJDEP as they draft their new Flood Hazard rules and offered his assistance if NRCS wants to connect with them on their projects and activities with silvicultural projects in wetlands, etc.
There was a short discussion regarding the fact that some wild bird producers could have large enough livestock numbers to fall under the new Animal Waste regulations.
Carrie thanked everyone for coming to the meeting and we adjourned at 3:03 pm.
Next Meeting Date:
The next meeting will be held from 10 am to 1 pm on September 17, 2014 at the NRCS State Office, 220 Davidson, Ave., Somerset, NJ 08873.
Attachments to June 25 Minutes
ACEP - Agricultural Conservation Enhancement Program
ALE - Agricultural Land Easement
AMA – Agricultural Management Assistance Program
AWEP – Agricultural Water Enhancement Program
CAP – Conservation Activity Plan
CCPI – Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative
CIG – Conservation Innovation Grant
CRP – Conservation Reserve Program
CREP - Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program
CStP – Conservation Stewardship Program
EQIP – Environmental Quality Incentive Program
FRPP – Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program
GRP – Grassland Reserve Program
HFRP – Healthy Forest Reserve Program
NIPF – non industrial private forestland
RCPP- Regional Conservation Partnership Program
SAFE – State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement
TSP- Technical Service Provider
WHIP – Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program
WLFW – Working Lands for Wildlife
WRE - Wetlands Reserve Easements
WRP – Wetlands Reserve Program