2014 Farm Bill Programs Update - Gail Bartok
Gail presented slides summarizing Fiscal Year 2014 Program Funds. (Attachment A-Farm Bill Programs Update). In addition, Gail showed maps detailing contracts by county, etc. All FY 14 funds must be obligated by Sept 30, 2014. The highest number of contracts was for Forestry Conservation Activity (CAP) plans, followed by contracts on cropland. The most money was spent was on irrigated land, followed by those in the “beginning farmer” category. NJ NRCS will be returning about $900,000 in FY 14 EQIP funds. The money arrived late and several large projects withdrew their applications late. In addition, a major software upgrade caused unexpected delays for NRCS to service applications. In summary, we spent about 4 million dollars in 2013 in EQIP but in 2014 we received 6 million and spent 5 million.
A question was asked about Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plans (CNMP) verses Nutrient Management Plans. The difference is that CNMP’s deal with manure.
Program Subcommittee Update - Gail Bartok
Some changes for 2015 are that we will allow expansion of livestock operations up to 25% if needed. One year of Nutrient Mgmt. will be required if an Ag Waste Facility is installed. Golden Winged Warbler and Bog Turtle is not a stand-alone fund pool but will now be addressed in the EQIP Wildlife fund pool by adding points when the application is ranked. Seasonal High Tunnels (SHT) will not have a dedicated fund pool but will be included with other fund pools. The Soil Health Initiative will be kept the same as 2014. October 17, 2014 will be first EQIP application cutoff for FY15 sign-up.
CRP, CREP, SAFE Activity - Nancy Coles
Nancy shared a handout on the NJ Farm Service Agency’s (FSA) Conservation (and Emergency) Programs Status as of August 2014. (Attachment B-CRP-CREP-SAFE-FSA Report) In the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) 321 practices have been installed on 203 farms. There are a total of 2085.9 acres and 297 contracts currently enrolled over various signups. In 2014, FSA paid about $168,000 in rental payments and currently have 6 new offers now for CRP. In CRP 95.4 aces are expiring.
The Grassland Reserve Program (GRP) rental program has been eliminated under the new Farm Bill and
will now fall under CRP in 2015. Christine Hall asked Nancy Coles if she could show a spatial map of the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP). Nancy explained that a majority of it is in Salem with the remainder throughout the State. Nancy said she would see about getting a Spatial Map for a future meeting.
Action Item: Nancy Coles to get Spatial Map as described above.
Regional Conservation Partnership Program Update - Carrie Mosley
There will be one billion dollars available from NRCS for the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). 35% of the money from programs will go to critical areas like the Chesapeake. None of these Critical areas are in NJ however, 40% of the funds go to large multi-state projects. 25% of the money is left for in-state projects. NJ has been included in one multi-state pre-proposal Two NJ in-state pre- proposals have been selected for full proposals development and funding consideration. The National deadline for full proposals is October 2, 2014.
EWP- Floodplain Easements - Gail Bartok
Gail Bartok presented a map showing NJ Funded Applications (Attachment C-EWP Floodplain Easements).
Round 1 – We need to close on proposed properties by May 30, 2015. There are 16 parcels on Delaware Bay with the State of NJ as partner. One agricultural project is in Hunterdon County and is being surveyed.
Round 2 - We had 23 applications but only 3 were funded. Two are in Toms River and one is in Cumberland County and is over 400 acres.
Geographic Priority Areas - Christine Hall
Christine Hall presented a power point showing the Geographic Priority Areas of September 2014. (Attachment D – Geographic Priority Areas Map). She ask that if anyone on the State Technical Committee or in the room who is not on the list below but wants to have data added to the map, that they send this to Trish Long and Christine Hall by October 31, 2014. Also, if any group that has already submitted data and needs to update, send by that same deadline. It needs to be in GIS shapefile or similar format if at all possible.
This is the list of groups whose data is already included in the map. Ducks Unlimited, Natural Lands Trust, NJ Audubon Important Bird Areas, NJ Department of Environmental Protection, NJ Fish & Wildlife: Bobwhite Conservation Opportunity Area, NJ Water Supply Authority, North Jersey Resource Conservation & Development, RU Cooperative Extension: Water Resources Program, The Nature Conservancy, Trout Unlimited, US Fish & Wildlife Service, USDA Farm Service Agency SAFE Project, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Wallkill River Watershed Management Group
Action Item: send data or updates by October 31, 2014 to Trish Long and Christine Hall in GIS format.
2015 ACEP Geographic Area Rate Cap - Lauren Lapczynski
Lauren presented a PowerPoint on the proposed 2015 Geographic Area Rate Caps for ACEP-WRE (Attachment E-Geographic Area Rate Cap). NRCS offers an easement value to selected applications of the Wetlands Reserve Easement Program based on a percentage of the fair market value of the land. Each year, NRCS with consult from the State Technical Committee needs to determine what percentages and priorities we’d like to offer. She explained that in prior years, we utilized an Area Wide Market Analysis conducted by a professional consultant to determine average fair market values for different priority areas and land uses. Because of budgetary changes and the number of projects we typically receive, it is no longer cost effective to use an Area Wide Market Analysis to determine the rates. Now we will be using individual appraisals for each property.
NRCS had a meeting with a subset of the State Technical Committee to determine what percentage rates our offers will be based on by different priority areas. The group proposed to the State Technical Committee to offer 90% of the Appraised Fair Market Value for Woodland/Cropland/Pasture/Other lands not to exceed $11,700/ acre and 95% of the Appraised Market value for Bog Turtle lands not to exceed $12,350/acre.
NJ EQIP Initiatives for 2015 - Christine Hall
Water Quality Initiative
Christine presented a PowerPoint of the 2015 EQIP Initiatives (Attachment F –2015 EQIP Initiatives). The three watersheds in NJ that this committee selected to participate in the EQIP Water Quality Initiative are: Upper Salem, Upper Alloway and Upper Cohansey watersheds. Christine presented maps and data on 2009-2014 practices that were installed in these watersheds. She also showed maps with planned practices for 2015-2020.
NJ will soon be asked whether we want to continue offering the EQIP Water Quality Initiative to these 3 watersheds or move to other areas of the state. Each state is allowed to select a maximum of three watersheds to participate in the initiative. There was some discussion with ideas on targeting a watershed with salt-water intrusion issues or using an area near Deerfield where nitrates in the ground water are increasing. The NJ Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is already monitoring Water Quality in the Upper Salem Watershed and the William Penn Foundation is making grant funding for conservation efforts in the area that includes these 3 watersheds. After some discussion it was decided to keep the same 3 watersheds.
Action Item: Dave Clapp will see if he can get a shapefile of Ag Waste Management properties in these 3 watersheds to overlay.
Soil Health Initiative
Christine presented a power point (Attachment G – Soil Health Initiative) on the 2014 EQIP Soil Health Initiative. Over 1400 acres of cropland were contracted for 2014 implementation of a mulit- species cover crop mix. Of these acres, over 1100 acres were established using aerial seeding. Aerial seeding was done in the early 1980’s and we are trying it to see if this method will help us establish cover crop before crops are harvested.
2015 Initiatives Ideas
Christine asked members for their recommendations on other needs within New Jersey and ideas for other initiatives for 2015 or the future. The following ideas were discussed below:
• Lopatcong Creek and Paulins Kill – money coming from other groups there already.
• Loss of canopy cover from Emerald Ash Borer.
• Headwaters protection
• Equine Initiative (appropriate technology, appropriate outreach, “sales” pitch, manure transport)
• Stewardship on rented land - Tenant Farmer issues of needing practices but not willing to make commitment. (no lease, too long life span, doesn’t want to pay for it and owner may not want to pay either).
Action Item: It was suggested that the 2012 Ag Census data and trends results could be used to identify future initiatives. Bruce Eklund from National Ag Statistics Service (NASS) could be asked to present at the next meeting.
NRCS Practice Standard Revisions - Christine Hall / Dave Lamm
NRCS Practice Standards are updated on a 5 year cycle and are posted on Field Office Technical Guide (FOTG) and website. The National Office creates the standards and then each state is allowed to update or edit as needed. States can be more strict but not less. Ecological Science and Engineering are the two main divisions that maintain the standards. NJ NRCS has a new Agronomist, Kaitlin Farbotnik and she will be working to revise and update many of our Agronomic practice standards. Christine Hall said that anyone on the committee is welcome to comment on updates and/or review upcoming edits and updates. She presented a power point showing a typical practice standard and a list of the practices the Ecological Science staff will be updating (Attachment H – Practice Standard Revisions).
Dave Lamm, NJ NRCS State Engineer explained that in order for NRCS to offer a new practice in a cost- share program, that practice has to be adopted and approved first. For example, “Livestock Shelter” is a new practice that is coming to NJ NRCS. Each state has 12 months to adopt, edit, etc. from date National publishes theirs via circulars.
Field Office Technical Guide NJ NRCS webpage with current Practice Standards. National Practice Standards website.
Action Item: Anyone interested in reviewing and commenting on the draft standards should contact Christine Hall by October 29th.
NJ and National CIG update - Gail Bartok
Every year states can use up to 5% of their EQIP allocation for CIG grants. The typical schedule is that the National office sends out guidelines around January, each state adjusts as needed and then sends out a call for proposals in the spring of the year.
Action Item: Gail Bartok will email the list of CIG Grants to the Committee. A presentation can be made if people are interested.
Partner Agreements for FY2015 - Dan Mull
Dan Mull gave an overview of Partner Agreements for Fiscal Year 2015.
- US Fish and Wildlife – to provide assistance to NRCS with the wetland easement program – extended until - through July 2016
- Northern Organic Famer Association – to provide assistance to NRCS when working with organic farmers - – through June 2015
- New Jersey Audubon – to provide assistance to NRCS for forestry services – through March 2015
- Xerces – to provide assistance to NRCS on pollinator projects in RI, CT, MD, PA and NJ through July 2016
- Conservation Assistance Program – to provide assistance to NRCS through 3 positions – through Aug 2015.
- Hunterdon Soil Conservation District – conservation planning on preserved farms – extended through May 2015.
- NJ Association of Conservation Districts – to assist NRCS in developing conservation district agreements and initiate local working groups – through December 2015.
- Conserve Wildlife Foundation – to assist NRCS in northern New Jersey with wildlife projects – through December 2015.
- Wallkill River Management Group - to provide assistance for NRCS in the Wallkill watershed – through September 2015.
Carrie shared that working cooperatively with other partner conservation groups is a win/win for both groups. This strategy works very well for NRCS and we will continue to seek these leveraging opportunities.
Future Directions funding – Mull
In 2014, NRCS in each state was asked whether they had opportunities to work with partner groups to enhance conservation in specific geographic areas. Each state develop proposals for additional funding and New Jersey develop a request for funding for conservation efforts in the Wallkill and Paulins Kill watersheds of northern New Jersey. New Jersey was awarded Future Directions funds for assistance from the Wallkill River Management group to work with landowners in the Wallkill watershed in Warren and Sussex Counties and the Paulins Kill Watershed in Sussex County.
NRCS also entered into an agreement with North Jersey Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) for conservation assistance in the Musconetcong and Lopatcong Watersheds of Warren County. In anticipation of developing Future Directions proposals in 2015, Dan requested that ideas for submittal be directed to Maria Collazo or Christine Hall.
Program Outreach Training Session - Christine Hall
Christine Hall announced that there will be NRCS Programs training for partners, State Technical Committee Members, and other interested people we work with. This will be to learn about programs, conservation planning, etc. and will include things like contracting, terminations, etc. Training is planned for November 2014. Watch for details coming soon.
Client Gateway Coming Soon - Nancy Paolini
Nancy Paolini presented a short explanation on the upcoming Client Gateway. (Attachment I – Client Gateway). Client Gateway (CG) is the new NRCS public web application for agricultural producers scheduled for deployment later in CY 2014. CG Release 1 will provide access to individual client records. A small selection of “early adopter” farmers will be identified in NJ. These people will then be asked to test the system by registering, applying online and looking at their plans, contracts, etc. More details will be coming soon. Each state has been asked to provide up to 10 early adopters to test the system.
Kristina Heinemann (Environmental Protection Agency - EPA) announced that the comment period for the proposed rules on Waters of the US ends October 20, 2014.
Mike Westendorf (Rutgers) announced that horse farms can apply for stewardship designation through Rutgers. If chosen, the horse farm that wins receives recognition and a sign. On November 10 the Rutgers Equine Science event will be held and the next winner will be announced.
Next Meeting Date - December 3, 2014, NRCS State Office, 220 Davidson Ave., 4th Floor, Somerset, NJ 08873.
The next meeting has been changed to late February 2015/early March.
The meeting was adjourned at 12:54 pm.
â€‹ACEP - Agricultural Conservation Easement Program
ALE - Agricultural Land Easement
AMA – Agricultural Management Assistance Program
AWEP – Agricultural Water Enhancement Program
CAP – Conservation Activity Plan
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
NWQI – National Water Quality Initiative
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