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Minutes of the New Jersey State Technical Committee Meetings

Meeting Minutes

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DRAFT Minutes of February 26, 2015, meeting of the New Jersey State Technical Committee


Those in attendance:

  • Bill Angstadt, Growmark FS
  • Bill Brash, Mercer SCD
  • Bill Rawlyk, Open Space Institute
  • Bob Erikson, National Wild Turkey Federation
  • Bonnie McDevitt, NJ Water Assoc.
  • Brian Cowden, Trout Unlimited
  • Brian McLendon, NJDEP/DWQ
  • Bruce Eklund, NASS
  • Carrie Mosley, NRCS
  • Chad Cherefko, NRCS
  • Christine Hall, NRCS
  • Christine Raabe, Ocean SCD
  • Cliff Lundin, Sussex SCD
  • Dan Mull, NRCS
  • Dave Lamm, NRCS
  • Don Knezick, Pinelands Nursery
  • Eileen Miller, NRCS
  • Eric Vanbenschoten, Wallkill River Watershed
  • Gail Bartok, NRCS
  • Helen Heinrich, NJ Farm Bureau
  • Ines Zimmerman, Freehold SCD
  • Jean Lynch, NJ Audubon
  • John Park, NJ Audubon
  • Jon Klischies, NJ State Forest Service
  • Kathleen Hitchner, NJDEP Watershed Restoration
  • Kathy Hale, NJ WSA
  • Kristina Heinemann, US EPA Region 2
  • Kristen Meistrell, NJ Audubon
  • Laura Kenny, Rutgers Coop. Extension
  • Lauren Lapczynski, NRCS
  • Michael Catania, Duke Farms
  • Mike Westendorf, Rutgers Coop. Extension
  • Nancy Coles, USDA FSA
  • Nancy Paolini, NRCS
  • Nathaniel Sajdak, Wallkill River Watershed
  • Ryan Rebozo, PPA
  • Sharon Petzinger, NJ Fish and Wildlife
  • Stephen Boyer, NJDEP/DWQ/BPR
  • Thom Almendinger, Duke Farms
  • Tim Fekete, NJDA, SSCC
  • Vicki Fekete, USDA-RD

Due to bad weather in South Jersey several people called in via teleconference.

  • Amy Hansen (NJCF)
  • Bob Dobbs (NJACD)
  • John Cecil (NJ Audubon)
  • Nick Saumweber(NRCS)
  • Steve Eisenhauer (Natural Lands Trust)
  • Diane Gunson (Kingfisher Farm)
  • Brian Marsh (USF&WS)

Pre-Meeting – Christine Hall

From 9:15 to 9:45 Christine Hall explained the mission of the State Technical Committee to new State Technical Committee members. Minutes and agendas are sent out and available on the website, so attendees are asked to bring their own copies of minutes and agendas to the meeting.

Welcome & Introductions - Carrie Mosley

Carrie Mosley opened the meeting at 10:05 am and thanked everyone for attending the State Technical Committee meeting. Attendees each introduced themselves.

The Minutes from September 17, 2014 were accepted and approved without correction.

Action Items from previous meeting reviewed

The action items noted on the previous meeting minutes of September 17, 2014 were reviewed.

  • Action Item: Nancy Coles to get Spatial Map of CREP areas in NJ. Completed and to be presented during Nancy’s report at this meeting USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.
  • Action Item: Geographic Priority Areas – data was to be sent to Trish Long and Christine Hall in GIS format by October 31, 2014. Completed
  • Action Item: Dave Clapp will see if he can get a shapefile of Ag Waste Management properties in the 3 Water Quality Initiative watersheds to overlay. In progress
  • 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. Complete – Presentation taking place at this meeting
  • Action Item: Anyone interested in reviewing and commenting on practice draft standards was to contact Christine Hall by October 29th. Complete
  • Action Item: Gail Bartok will email the list of CIG Grants to the Committee. A presentation can be made if people are interested. Complete- A presentation on Conservation Innovation Grants was done with 40 people from 24 organizations attending.

Old Business

2014 Farm Bill Programs Year in Review - Gail Bartok

Gail gave a presentation summarizing the 2014 Farm Bill Programs in NJ (Attachment 1 – 2014 Farm Bill Programs Year in Review.pdf).

In summary, at the national level 60 % of the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) funds is to support conservation projects on livestock operations. Some applications are for both cropland and livestock, so we put them under livestock if possible because in NJ we don’t typically received enough livestock-related applications.
A question was asked about CSP renewals and outreach. Gail said our District Conservationists (DC’s) are aware of this and a press release is being sent to all partners regarding renewals soon.

CRP, CREP, SAFE Activity - Nancy Coles

Nancy presented a NJ Map showing Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) activity by county. (Attachment 2 -_NJ CREP Map Enrollment Activity 2015-02-26.pdf) This was requested at the last meeting. She also distributed a report showing details of FSA activity in NJ. (Attachment 3 – FSA Conservation Status Report 2015-2-26.pdf)

Carrie explained that CRP/CREP has expanded with more options than when it first was offered. The committee discussed what tools are or could be made available to identify high priority areas for buffer implementation under CREP. Christine Hall explained that in the Raritan Basin a Variable Source Area (VSA) hydrology model had been run to identify “hydrologic hot spots” where best management practice implementation, including buffers, would make a larger impact on water quality. Kathy Hale shared with the group that under a Cooperative
Conservation Partnership Initiative grant a model was developed using the VSA model and other data sources to prioritize lands in the Raritan Basin for buffer implementation.

  • Action Item: Christine will explore if the VSA model can be made available statewide.

Regional Conservation Partnership Program Update - Carrie Mosley

Carrie gave a presentation on the new Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). . She explained how RCPP promotes partnerships with nonprofits, private sector, and others allowing us to achieve the same or greater level of conservation accomplishments with level or declining money from Federal Agencies. (Attachment 4 – Regional Conservation Partnership Program.pdf)

We have 2 projects selected for funding in NJ. American Farmland Trust submitted a 5 year project for the Delaware Watershed. Farm Bill funding will go to NJ, PA and NY to support EQIP contracts and easement programs within that watershed. NJ represents 25% of the watershed for the Delaware. Over 25 partners are involved with that project and will be contributing matching funds from a variety of sources, with the William Penn Foundation being a major contributor to the match.

The other RCPP project funded in NJ was submitted by the New Jersey Conservation Foundation and will support farmland preservation easements and implementation of conservation practices on preserved farms in the Delaware Bayshore region.

An announcement for FY 16 funding for RCPP is anticipated to be announced in Spring 2015. Concern was expressed for knowing what is required sooner. Firm money commitments are hard to get for these projects. Carrie suggested that people visit the National Website for RCPP to see prior year requests.

Carrie shared a list of what RCPP proposals were funded nationally. This list was circulated at the meeting, but is not available online. Carrie offered to copy it for anyone who requests it.

Bill Angstadt said that the Delaware Bay project is using William Penn cluster money if anyone is interested in this for 2016 funding. Carrie has a list/map of the clusters and can provide to anyone upon request.
The group discussed how the additional funding coming to NJ through this new program may create a need for more staff resources including Technical Service Providers (TSP). John Parke inquired if NRCS could provide training to get more TSPs up and running. Christine shared that NRCS would be providing training on conservation planning and other NRCS trainings that will be made available to partners.

EWP- Floodplain Easements - Gail Bartok

Gail showed a map of post Superstorm Sandy Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) – Floodplain Easement sites that have been approved in both rounds of EWP funding. NRCS staff along with the project sponsors are working through the process toward easement purchase. (Attachment 5 - EWP-FPE for HQ2.pdf)

In round 1, sixteen residential properties in South Jersey, referred to as the Bay Point Project, and one twelve-acre agricultural property in Hunterdon were approved for funding. We received the appraisals and they are under review. The survey of the Hunterdon parcel is completed.

In round 2, there are two residential properties in Toms River with Ocean County as sponsor. Those appraisals are out for review. In this second round there is also a large agricultural parcel in Cumberland County for which we just received the appraisal.

NJ and National CIG Update – Gail Bartok

National CIG Announcement was sent January 2015. Pre-proposals will be decided upon in April. 20 million dollars is available for 2015 with a 1 million dollar cap for each.

State CIG – We are accepting proposals now and information will be sent out this week. Approximately $208,000 will be available, which is a little more than last year. Pre-proposals will be due around March 30. Full proposals will be due June 5.

State Focus is Environmental Markets and Finance funding pool and the Natural Resources Funding Pool.
Applicants can contact Christine Hall (732-537-6051), Gail Bartok (732-537-6042) or Greg Westfall (732-537-6054) to discuss ideas for pre-proposals and proposals.

Practice Standard Updates – Archived Section Added - Christine Hall

Christine demonstrated the Electronic Field Office Technical Guide (eFOTG) (Attachment 6 – Practice Standard Updates.pdf) and user’s guide (Attachment 6a – FOTG Users Guide.pdf). The Field Office Technical Guide is the official source to obtain information on NJ Conservation Practice Standards, cost estimate data, and a wealth of other technical resources. She explained that a new archive section has been added to house Conservation Practices Standards that have been updated. Practice Standards moved to the archive section have had a watermark added to the file showing the effective dates for that version of the Practice Standard. She also shared a list of updated Practice Standards since the last State Technical Committee meeting (Attachment 7 – NJ NRCS Conservation Practice Standards Updated December 2014.pdf).

Program Outreach Training for Partners Recap and Next Steps - Christine Hall

At past meetings people have asked for training on how our programs work. A workshop was held on Dec. 3, 2014, for partners. Christine gave a presentation summarizing the workshop and evaluation results from the event. (Attachment 8 – Program Outreach Training For Partners.pdf) Feedback was positive on the training and indicated that we should repeat the training for others who were not present.

Based on feedback from the event and with support from the State Technical Committee the plan is to repeat this same training program this May. A more in-depth advance training on NRCS programs will be offered in November or December this year. NRCS will also be developing a training for partners who want to learn more about Conservation Planning. This training will targeted for Fall 2015.

New Business

2012 Ag Census Data and Trends – Bruce Eklund

As requested at the last meeting, Bruce Eklund from National Ag Statistics Service (NASS) presented data and the website available from NASS (Attachment 9 – 2012 Ag Census Data and Trends.pdf). He explained that the Ag census is done every 5 years and that most of this information is available on the website.
Bruce gave details on how the census is conducted and how the data is collected. He said that NASS is exempt from Freedom of Information Act and does not share info with IRS, etc. which helps with data collection since all information is private.

NASS took over Ag Census in 1997. To be considered a farm, the operation has to have $1,000 of farm income. NASS uses many methods to gather data including surveys, sampling, contacts, and interpretive analysis.
Bruce encouraged us to use the website, www.nass.usda.gov and contact him if we need assistance. He said that the data is of no value if no one uses it. Lastly, he explained that the website has an alert you can subscribe to let you know when new data and reports are available. You can also request custom queries.

Bruce asked that we help promote the Ag Census to farmers when doing outreach, etc. He was told that many farm programs start with the NASS data for prioritizing, including the Farm Bill. He asked that we remind people that their confidentiality is safeguarded. Bruce brought many handouts to the meeting for attendees to take with them. Leftover handouts will be distributed to our NRCS Service Centers for their public area handout stacks.

Resource Stewardship Pilot Underway - Carrie Mosley

Carrie spoke about the current interest in labeling, and noted that many restaurants and stores are doing more with labeling, designating items or dishes that have the distinction of being grown using conservation methods. She began to wonder, “Who is making these criteria and standards?”

The NRCS has long developed conservation plans for agricultural producers; however, implementation of the plans, unless tied to a Farm Bill contract, is generally voluntary.

Carrie showed a power point explaining a Resource Stewardship Pilot program for 2015. (Attachment 10 – Resource Stewardship Pilot Underway.pdf) The presentation explained the goals of this effort and the various tools that can be used to assess resources on the land. In this pilot, a stewardship plan is created by running all the NRCS assessment tools to inventory the resources on the land and, based on the activities of the land manager, determine whether these activities are being done in a sustainable way for all resources on the farm. NRCS is piloting this in Frenchtown with 10 producers. NRCS plans to make this a national effort in 2016. This designation or determination could be used as a consistent standard of farming stewardship across the country.

Kristina Heineman mentioned NIST, the National Institute of Standards and suggested they may have something to offer NRCS as we develop our program.

  • Action Item: Chad Cherefko, Frenchtown District Conservationist, should present an update at the next meeting.

Delaware River Conservation Effects Assessment Report – Christine Hall

Christine presented on the Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP). (Attachment 11 – Delaware River Conservation Effects Assessment Report.pdf). She summarized the Delaware River Basin Cropland CEAP. The Report is available online. There are opportunities for this report to support the partnership efforts underway in the Delaware River Watershed.

  • Action Item: A multi-state webinar to explain the report will be coming in April. State Technical Committee members will be sent the information on the webinar as soon as it is available.

Soil Health Focus Group Update on Activities – Eileen Miller

Eileen spoke about soil health, which is a National priority. Eileen coordinates the NJ Soil Health Focus Group consisting of partners that are interested in advancing soil health in NJ. She gave an update on activities. . (Attachment 12 – Soil Health Focus Group Update On Activities.pdf)

Eileen summarized the Frenchtown field day on soil health and cover crops. NJ NRCS now has a rainfall simulator that will be used as a demonstration at various events. She shared her contact info and invited anyone interested in soil health to join the focus group. Eileen can be reached at 856-205-1225 x3 or Eileen.Miller@nj.usda.gov.

The group discussed various training opportunities around the state including presentations to school groups. Carrie shared that Christine Raabe from Ocean SCD is doing a lot of work on this. Christine said she regularly works with Eileen.

State Tech Committee Membership and Survey – Christine Hall

We are always looking for new members, especially ag producers. Sam Conard, grain farmer in Somerset County, is retiring from farming and the State Technical Committee. Christine thanked Sam for his many years representing the ag community on the State Technical Committee.

Three years ago an online survey was distributed to State Technical Committee members to understand their priority natural resource concerns in the state and to learn how we can improve the State Technical Committee meetings. Christine mentioned that NRCS is planning to repeat a similar survey sometime this year.

  • Action Item: Christine will be sending a members survey to the committee.

Conservation Compliance for Crop Insurance Participants – Christine Hall

Christine summarized Conservation Compliance, voluntary compliance, and the Farm Bill changes (Attachment 13 – Conservation Compliance for Crop Insurance.pdf). Typically we think of working with NRCS as a voluntary, but there are some conditions where a certain level of conservation is mandated. The Food Security Act of 1985 created Conservation Compliance, also known as sodbuster and swampbuster provisions. Under Conservation Compliance, producers who receive any financial benefits from Farm Service Agency (FSA) or NRCS must meet the basic compliance requirements for Highly Erodible Land (sodbuster) and Wetlands (swampbuster).

The most recent Farm Bill, the Agriculture Act of 2014, re-linked federally subsidized Crop Insurance with Conservation Compliance. Now if producers receive crop insurance subsidy benefits from USDA-Risk Management Agency (RMA), they too must now meet these compliance requirements for sodbuster and swampbuster. Producers that only receive benefits from RMA have a June 2015 deadline to file the required forms with FSA in order to maintain their benefits.

Meeting Schedule and Summer Meeting Options – Carrie Mosley

Carrie explained that the State Technical Committee Meetings would be moving from quarterly to 3 meetings per year with the summer being a tour followed by a meeting. Therefore, our next meeting will be a summer tour/meeting, followed by a meeting in September or October.

She asked for ideas for the summer tour. John Parke- suggested we visit the site of NJ Audubon‘s current Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG). Audubon is working with a Somerset County farmer to test spelt as a commodity crop that will yield both a profit for producers and habitat for grassland dependent bird species. It was suggested that we could combine this farm visit with something else and even bring the rainfall simulator and provide a soil health demonstration.
Also suggested was stream habitat work in the Musconetcong valley and innovative tillage work Dave Lee is working on in Salem County.

Carrie said if anyone else has ideas for summer meeting to let her know.

Open Discussion

Don Knezick announced that the Burlington SCD is hosting a Certified Professional Erosion and Sediment Control Specialist (CPESC) workshop on April 1st. The fee and workbook costs are being subsidized. Cost to applicants is only $100 total.
Jean Lynch shared that there will be a Farmer Outreach Workshop at the Vineland Service Center next Thursday, March 5, 2015.

Kristina Heinemann shared details on the National Nutrient Sensor Challenge. This challenge aims to collect innovative ideas for addressing nutrient overloads, by identifying affordable sensor technologies.

Kathleen Hitchner reported on NJDEP’s 319 grants. The State Fiscal Year 2014 approved grant applications are in the process of getting contracts executed. The funding priorities were: approved watershed based plans or total maximum daily loads (TMDLs) in the Barnegat Bay and the non-tidal Raritan River Watersheds, green infrastructure projects within drainage areas that have CSOs, and natural solutions, such as living shorelines, to address erosion and water quality issues. SFY 2015 Requests for proposals will be posted on DEP’s website soon. The funding priorities for SFY 2015 will be the same as last year.

The Rainfall Simulator will be at Rutgers Day, formerly called Ag Field Day, April 26, 2015.

Jean Lynch mentioned that the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) has announced another round of funding for projects under the William Penn Delaware Watershed Initiative. Applications are due March 18. She also inquired about the Healthy Forest Reserve Program (HFRP). How would a state gain access to this program?

  • Action Item: Program staff will follow up with the NRCS program manager for HFRP to find out more about this program and report back to the State Technical Committee.

Next Meeting Date – Date, time and location to be announced at a later date.

The meeting was adjourned at 1:03 pm.


Acronyms
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
FSA – Farm Services Agency (USDA)
GRP – Grassland Reserve Program
HFRP – Healthy Forest Reserve Program
NASS – National Agricultural Statistics Service (USDA)
NIPF – non industrial private forestland
NFWF – National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
NWQI – National Water Quality Initiative
NRCS – Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA)
RCPP- Regional Conservation Partnership Program
RD – Rural Development Agency (USDA)
SAFE – State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement
TSP- Technical Service Provider
USDA – United State Department of Agriculture
WHIP – Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program
WLFW – Working Lands for Wildlife
WRE - Wetlands Reserve Easements
WRP – Wetlands Reserve Program

 

 

This page last updated February 12, 2015.