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2010 Meeting Minutes State Technical Committee

New Jersey State Technical Committee - 2010 Archive

Meeting Minutes

Meeting minutes are available in Adobe Reader format and also below.

Minutes from December 7, 2010 (28 kb)
Minutes from September 23, 2010 (29 kb)
Minutes from June 3, 2010 (26 kb)
Minutes from March 2, 1010 (31 kb)

Current Meeting Minutes
Meeting Minutes - 2009

New Jersey State Technical Committee Minutes, Tuesday December 7, 2010

The meeting was called to order at 10:00 a.m. Tom welcomed everyone and introductions were made.

Those in Attendance: Tom Drewes, NRCS; Janice Reid, NRCS; Barbara Phillips, NRCS; Fran Grasso, NRCS; Fred Kelly, NRCS; Betsy Clarke, NRCS; Michael Catania, Conservation Resources, Inc.; Justine Cook, NOFA; Kim Korth, DFW-ENSP; Jess Niederer, Farmer; Sam Conard, Farmer; Paul Hlubik, FSA; Nancy Coles, FSA; Brad Smith, Nature Conservancy; Troy Joshua, USDA-NASS; Howard Henderson, RD; Amy Hanson, NJCF; Charles Roorh, NJDA-SADC; Kathleen Hitchner, NJDEP; Audrey Moore, USEPA - Reg 2 ;Kristina Heineman, USEPA-Reg 2; Marie Banasiak, NJ Farm Bureau; Liz Tompson, NJ Farm Bureau; Ken Klipstein, NJWSA; Eric Schrading, USFWS; Beth Ciuzio, USFWS; Dave Glenn, NOFA

September Meeting Minutes were reviewed and accepted with one unfinished sentence on page three corrected.

Committee Reports

Program Committee Update:
Janice informed the group that ranking for WHIP and EQIP are in the process of being completed. Tom mentioned that allocations for the programs have been received but final determinations have not been completed.

Outreach Committee Update:
Barb reported that the Outreach Committee met on November 29th. Beth Ciuzio joined the meeting to discuss WRP outreach. Marie Banasiak, NJFB, will be helping to write success stories about people that have worked with NRCS and are good conservationists. Other topics discussed include GRP outreach and the energy CAP. Christine Hall requested that everyone start using the Google calendar.

Old Business

Nancy handed out information on the most recent numbers for CRP, CREP, and SAFE. There are 263 CRP contracts with 287 practices on these contracts, and a total annual payment of $162,969.00. There are 156 CREP contracts totaling 361.0 acres with an average annual rate per contract of $137.90. There are 22 approved SAFE contracts with 247.3 acres enrolled and 8 pending contracts with 147.8 acres offered. Since October 1st there has been $318,543.51 in CRP payments made.

There is a continuous signup and the application closing for FY 2011 funding will end January 28, 2011. Available funding will be $207,595.

FY2011 GRP payments were issued for $26,497.

Janice mentioned that a geographic rate cap must be established. Janice is waiting for the rates from surrounding states to be released. Hopefully, NHQ will let us use that information. It will be very expensive to complete our own market survey.

WRP Easement Status:
Janice reported that we are working on three WRP easements. There are still applications being received for FY 2011. Tom mentioned that we established an agreement with USFW and a position was filled to work on WRP. Also, a similar position was filled with NOFA and with the Cape May Plants Material Center.

WRP Geographic Area Rate Cap:
There is a contract for market analysis completed for the Geographic Area Rate Cap. Those numbers will be available next week. A decision will have to be made once those numbers are received.

New Business

EQIP Organic Initiative:
Janice reported that NRCS is having a workshop at Duke Farms with NOFA on Thursday, December 9th. Janice mentioned the pros and cons of deer fencing under the organic initiative. The DCs requested that fencing be limited to those areas that are already organic certified as they are having problems with applicants claiming to be transitioning and then not following through, since the NJDA does not want any OSPs until after the 3-year transition period. NRCS is hoping to get TSP’s on the list that can begin to write plans for those wanting to transition to organic and become certified, and then we can require a plan through our CAP program.

EQIP person eligibility:
“What is an agriculture producer”? It states that $1,000 minimum in agricultural commodities must be produced or eligible to produce from the land. A substitution of 2 of the last 5 years of production may also be used. NJ had been using a more liberal definition but it is causing more problems, so we are going to start following national guidance more closely.

Special Session

NRCS "How're We Doing?":
NRCS needs input from our partners on how well we accomplished our mission and goals in the past year, and suggestions for improvement. After a brief discussion and review of the data collected from agricultural groups, it was decided that a questionnaire will be e-mailed to the group for their immediate responses.

Open Discussion

Liz reported that the annual conference was a good turnout. 2011 policies are available online. Right to farm, farmland assessment, tax issues are the three top priorities.

Kim reported that the bear hunt is on and gearing up for matching grant for license plate renewal fees.

Ken mentioned the River Friendly Farm and they continue to promote AWEP and other opportunities.

Janice mentioned that national CIG is out for projects over $75,000 projects and multi-state projects.

Michael announced that Duke Farms has been recognized by both the NJ Water Supply Authority and the state for the work done on the WRP and ARRA sites. Raritan Peidmont has been invited to submit an application to the Duke Foundation to continue their work. Conservation Resources Inc is expanding their efforts with a carbon grant research project, and is considering this and other ideas for possible new CIG applications.

Howard mentioned that the department will have a continuous effort on renewable energy. Howard mentioned that the work RD has completed is unique and there are many opportunities for further work to be completed for this effort.

Chuck mentioned that renewable energy has been the charge of the SADC. Farms will be able to supply energy to the farm and send back to the grid. SADC is writing the regulations for the preserved farms to have solar, wind, and biomass opportunities. The solar regs are out for public comment. Wind is being written and may be a little more complicated. Biomass requires SADC is work with department and DEP.

Kristina mentioned that they are continuing to use brown fields for agricultural production. Also, the compliance date for the SPCC rule has been extended. They are trying to get the word out since it applies to farmers if they store oil.

Dave mentioned that NOFA-NJ is preparing for their annual conference in January. There will be a round table discussion during that meeting. Also, they are continuing with classes for those interested in organic farming; the “exploring the small farm dream” class will be expanding to both north and south locations.

Paul mentioned that the disaster declaration was issued on November 23rd. All sixteen counties will qualify. Paul handed out fact sheets on the biomass crop assistance program and the emergency forest restoration program. Paul mentioned the conservation loan program and the effort between NRCS and FSA has been outstanding and NJ is leading in the country.

Audrey reported that a grant was awarded to Cornell and Rutgers for development of portable retro fit for traditional air blast sprayers.

Jess is a beginning farmer and was asked by Tom to attend the meeting. Jess mentioned that she enjoys working with NRCS and will encourage more farmers to contact NRCS for help.

Eric is working on prioritizing habitat areas and the species; it’s an internal process but the results will be posted on their web site. He hopes to continue with the shared employee. The agency is still committed to the Deepwater Horizon restoration effort, and 20% of employees will be working at the spill site throughout the year.

Brad is currently working with a grant from the William Penn Foundation to develop a private lands program. Target area is small farmers in Cumberland and Cape May counties to improve fresh water and forest health. He also hopes to become certified to write forest stewardship plans.

Kathleen is in process of making funding decisions for this year’s 319 grants. Proposals were received from a couple of the SCDs. They are also working with the NJ Water Supply Authority on the Ag mini grants that supplement AWEP contracts.

Troy mentioned that their annual November publication is out. The published data on renewable energy will be released in February 2011.

The next meeting is scheduled for March 10, 2011 @ 10:00 am in the NRCS state office.

The meeting was adjourned at noon.

New Jersey State Technical Committee Minutes - Thursday, September 23, 2010

The meeting was called to order at 10:00 am. Tom welcomed everyone and they introduced themselves.

Those in Attendance: Tom Drewes, NRCS Janice Reid, NRCS Maria M. Collazo, NRCS Paul Hlubik, FSA Nancy Coles, FSA Howard Henderson, RD Elizabeth Ciuzio, USFWS Karen Sykes, Forest Service Kristina Heinemann, EPA Region 2 Dave Clapp, NJDA Joanna Dillon, NOFA-NJ Liz Thompson, NJ Farm Bureau Amy Hansen, NJCF Fran Grasso, NRCS Evan Madlinger, NRCS Gail Bartok, NRCS Barbara Phillips, NRCS Laura Coover, NRCS

The June meeting minutes were reviewed. A few spelling mistakes were pointed out and noted. The minutes were accepted.

Tom announced that he will be retiring in January, and that he anticipated a smooth transition to whoever the new State Conservationist would be.

Tom updated the committee on the 10 positions NRCS shares on a 50/50 basis with other agencies. Several of these positions are the result of new partnerships, and the positions will help NRCS market some new initiatives and priorities.

Three items were moved from Old Business to the start of the meeting to accommodate the speakers.

  1. A slide show on the NJ ARRA (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009) Floodplain Easement Project was given by Evan Madlinger. Evan provided details of the easement restoration efforts, which were completed in the spring of 2010.

  2. CRP, CREP, SAFE: Nancy Coles presented a handout with details highlighting the CRP, CREP, and SAFE programs. There was one offer for the General CRP Signup 39. The one offer did not rank well enough nationally to be enrolled in CRP.

    CREP – 148 approved contracts as of August 18, 2010.

    NJ SAFE – 15 approved contracts/193.8 ac. enrolled.  9 pending offers/151.6 offered. All three approved SAFE areas now have enrolled acres.

    2011 CRP rental payments are scheduled to be released on Monday, October 4th. 87% of all payments should be issued without incurring problems. In 2010, a total of $703,823.98 in payments were made in CRP for rental payments, 50% cost-share, signing incentive, & practice incentive.

  3. GRP: Nancy gave the final tallies for 2010 GRP: 6 applications were submitted, 3 withdrew, leaving 3 contracts for a total of $37,266.00 on a total of 19.2 acres. This dollar amount includes rental payments for 10 years and practice incentives.

Committee Reports

Programs Subcommittee: Janice provided an update on subcommittee activities in preparation for the 2011 program year. These included the funding pool recommendations for WHIP, AMA, AWEP and EQIP and the program schedule with ranking and obligation deadlines for FY 2011. No change in pools from last year is recommended except for EQIP, where additional beginning farmer pools will be added for each land use type. This was done as a result of a new screening system that will be used this year to prioritize applications based on the resource concerns that an applicant is willing to address.

She noted the Regional Equity obligation deadline is April 1, 2011, which means we need 90% of our regional equity funds obligated by that time to guarantee we receive the additional regional equity funds. Regional Equity programs are WHIP, EQIP, & FRPP. Our proposed program schedule provides for all funds to be obligated before April 1 except for AMA, which is not a regional equity program.

Outreach Committee: Barb reported the next meeting is scheduled for October. Some of the recommendations that were discussed in April have been pursued, including the NRCS 75th anniversary display and enhancement of the web-site to be more productive for the employees. Success stories and interviews have been scheduled with two farmers. NRCS local offices have been conducting outreach to find groups that include minority producers.

Old Business

Program Status: Janice handed out the FY 2010 Program obligations and payments as of 9/15/10:

Contracts Obligations Payments % Paid Acres Average per Acre
AMA: 17 $325,338.14 $63,454.07 19.5% 473.2 $687.63
AWEP: 11 $223,816.00 $0.00 0% 651.0 $343.80
EQIP: 143 $5,109,596.14 $627,473.02 12.3% 15,043.4 $339.66
WHIP: 25 $417,068.99 $69,591.99 16.7% 1,238.1 $336.86
CSP: 9 $71,225.00 $0.00 0% 2,468.1 $28.86

WRP: 3 offers were made and accepted for permanent easements, and additional obligations were made for repairs and improvements on existing easements for a total obligation of $1,159568; closings should all be complete by 12/31/2010 and information available as to location and acres (data by county) at our January meeting. FRPP: 17 parcels accepted for funding with a total obligation of $8,878,894; closings due by 3/31/2012; information on these applicant’s location and acres can be made available after closing.

CIG: 1 State-funded CIG grant awarded for $75,000 to D&R Greenway Land Trust for a project that will demonstrate the potential of native grass/forb seed mixes as a viable agricultural market for NJ growers.

Janice is hopeful that the national CIG will be announced by November so that the State CIG can be announced in December. She and Tim are planning on having another informational meeting for potential applicants as was done in 2009.

New Business

Local Work Groups & Soil Conservation Districts: Tom reported that the 2008 Farm Bill has revitalized the local work group concept. Through a cooperative agreement, NJ Association of Conservation District has agreed to subcontract with three districts to organize and hold local work group meetings.

WRP Easement Status: Janice’s presented a handout on the new WRP policies regarding geographic rate caps. The first step is the market survey, for which a national template was finally issued. We will be soliciting a new contract for this work as soon as funds are available in 2011. The data from the market survey is used to set our three geographic rate caps for cropland, specialty (irrigated) cropland, and woodland. Our rate caps must be consistent with (within 20% of) our neighboring states; plus any rate over $5,000 must have an ecological justification submitted by the State Conservationist

WHIP State Plan: Fran informed the committee that the WHIP State Plan will need to be updated and asked for volunteers to assist in this task. She will coordinate with the volunteers and begin to work on the plan.

2011 Programs: Janice stated that the NRCS national office indicated “early” release of CCPI, AWEP, CIG, EQIP Organic initiative information and RFPs for 2011.

FRPP Soil Waivers: Janice reported that there is a new policy for parcels that don’t meet the minimum criteria for soils. The FRPP statute requires at least 50% of a site to be prime or important soils to qualify for FRPP; but there is a waiver provision for historic, cultural, or priority areas. Under the 2002 farm bill, waivers were granted on a case by case basis. Under the 2008 farm bill, waiver areas must be approved in advance of applications. Areas can be a geographic region or based on other historic or cultural criteria.

Because this is a new concept, and training for FRPP partners is scheduled for October 13, NRCS is recommending a broad geographic region for 2011 – the NJ Highlands area. We can evaluate the results of this after the 2011 sign-up. The committee concurred in this suggestion.

USDA Biofuels Meeting: Paul Hlubik announced that there will be a meeting held on Thursday, September 30th at the Rutgers EcoComplex. This meeting will be a Community Forum on expanding the U.S. Biofuels Market led by USDA.

Open Discussion

Amy Hansen mentioned that, by Executive Order, Governor Christie has decertified several boards and commissions including the D&R Canal Commission, which is a volunteer board whose staff is paid through permit fees. No tax dollars fund this Commission. Paul added that the Invasive Species Council is another group to be eliminated.

Tom reminded everyone that the north Jersey soil health meeting is scheduled for November 9 at the ANJEC office. Barb will send the information out via email.

Liz reported that farmer night at the Trenton Thunder was a huge success, with over 500 farmers in attendance. Although it was a rainy day in much of the state, there was no rain during the game and everyone had a great time

Farm Bureau is also busy setting their legislative agenda and planning the 2010 convention, scheduled for November 15 and 16 in Princeton.

Barb reported for Tim that the PMC field day is coming up on September 29; a notice was emailed and all are invited.

Beth mentioned a new track hoe available for project work from USF&WS.

Maria talked about the current NRCS workload analysis process known as ABC. Data collection will occur in October. The nationwide data will be used to support our budget and hopefully lead to simplification of funds, which would help streamline our programs.

Evan reported that he is working with a potential WRP applicant in north Jersey who only speaks Chinese. He is using the translation skills of one of our CAP employees to provide the technical assistance.

Gail mentioned there is much interest in FSA’s new Conservation Loan Program and they are cooperating to get interested applicants eligible. Paul thanked Gail and the rest of the DCs for their cooperation. He brought the committee up-to-date on this program, which provided $150 million on September 2 to be obligated before September 30. The goal of the program is to get conservation implemented. Applications are not need-based, but based on practices in an approved conservation plan. Funds are available for equipment, such as no-till drills, as well as for building structural measures such as waterways.

Joanna introduced herself as the new NOFA Communications person, and mentioned that the long-awaited Beginning Farmer program will begin at the annual conference in January.

Dave mentioned that the deadline for self-certified plans under the new NJ Ag Waste rule was last week. NJDA has received about 200 low-density plans and a few high-density plans, which means a lot of operations are out of compliance with the rule. NJDA and Rutgers will continue their outreach and training efforts.

Howard and RD have had an extremely busy end of year with ARRA projects. For 2011, RD hopes to refocus efforts on their ag initiatives such as the value added program, and food distribution and food processing opportunities.

Kristina mentioned that EPA is looking at opportunities for local food production in former brownfield areas and could potentially work with RD on some initiatives. She also stated that Region 2 is planning a workgroup meeting with NRCS on October 27 to discuss NRCS programs and cooperative opportunities.

Janice announced that beginning in 2011, Fran would now be the lead programs person for AMA, CSP and WHIP. Janice will continue to be the lead for EQIP and the easement programs.

Karen reported that the state resource assessment and strategies report should be posted on the NJDEP website. Additionally, the Upper Delaware Common Waters group, which includes Sussex and Warren counties, has met three times. They have agreed to develop a NJ-watershed-type effort for forest lands to tackle the issues of stewardship plans, legal fees for donated easements, and forest-land conservation practices.

Paul reported that the FSA office relocated to Hamilton Square, and provided business cards with the new address and phone number. He also reported that FSA was successful in getting a disaster declaration for all 16 agricultural counties in the state due to this summer’s dry weather.

The next meeting will be held Thursday, December 16, 2010 @ 10:00 am, at the NRCS State Office

The meeting adjourned at 11:30 a.m.

New Jersey State Technical Committee Minutes - Thursday June 3, 2010

The meeting was called to order at 10:10 a.m.

Those in attendance: Tom Drewes NRCS, Karen Sykes US Forest Service, Janice Reid NRCS, David Glenn NOFA-NJ, Tim Dunne NRCS, Audrey Moore US EPA Region, Barb Phillips NRCS, Liz Thompson NJ Farm Bureau, Lauren Rega NRCS, Troy Joshua USDA-NASS, Fran Grasso NRCS, Mike Westendof Rutgers Cooperative Extension, Gail Bartok NRCS, David Clapp NJDA Sharif Branham NRCS, Nancy Coles USDA/FSA

Tom Drewes welcomed everyone to the Somerset NRCS State Office. Tom asked the committee to introduce themselves, as there were a few new people that attended the meeting.

Tom mentioned that we were recently able to approve a Technical Service Provider (TSP) capable of developing our Farm Energy Conservation Activity Plans (CAP) under EQIP, which includes an energy audit as the basis for the plan. We will therefore be adding this CAP to our 2011 program. There has been no word about our 2011 budget yet.

March Meeting Minutes were reviewed and accepted with one typo noted on the 3rd page, 4th paragraph.

Committee Reports

Outreach - Barb reported that the Outreach committee met on April, 27th. The Pasture Guide is now available on-line. If funding becomes available to have the publication printed, two more pages would be added. Barb would like to see the committee populate the Google calendar more regularly. At the suggestion of Troy Joshua, Barb contacted Ed Tavernier, an Ag Economist from Rutgers, who has applied for a grant to reach the underserved. If he is awarded the grant, there will be opportunities for the Outreach Subcommittee to work with him this Fall.

Programs - Janice reported on the current program funds:

  • AMA – initial allocation of $175,000; 2nd allocation $49,000. We then requested and received another $106,000 for a total of $330,000. As a result, all eligible AMA applications will be funded.

  • AWEP – approved for $216,000. There are 15 applications being processed which need to be obligated by July 2nd

  • EQIP – initial allocation of $3.6 million, 2nd allocation of $364,000. We recently received our regional equity request of $1 million for a total of $5 million and are now signing contracts to use these funds.

  • WHIP – initial allocation of $120,000, regional equity request of $95,000. These funds were enough to approve all existing priority applications. We then received a 2nd allocation of $100,000 and have held another sign-up which resulted in 19 applications now being processed.

  • FRPP – initial allocation of approximately $7 million, regional equity request of $500,000. We then requested and received another $1.1 million for a total of $8.7 million. 99% of the funds have been obligated to 14 parcels.

  • WRP – initial allocation of $3 million. We do not have the applications to support this and have returned $1 million for other states’ use.

    • A new hire co-funded by NRCS and USFS will begin on June 7th to work with WRP. The position will be housed in the US Fish & Wildlife Service office in Pleasantville.

Tom also mentioned a new position being established through the Forestry Service that will work with various agencies including NRCS.

Janice also gave a breakdown of how these funds have been obligated by priority area.

  • AMA – 24% cropland and 76% grazing land

  • WHIP – (to date) 37% grasslands and pollinator habitats; 25% woodlands, wetlands and disturbance dependent habitat; 38% Delaware bayshore area

  • EQIP – (to date) 22% dry cropland; 45% irrigated cropland (includes non-irrigation practices); 27% livestock; 1% forest land, 5% organic. These totals do not include the 15 Conservation Activity Plans (6 forest management and 9 CNMPs) that were approved.

  • FRPP – 14 new parcels were approved

Old Business

CRP – Nancy reported that the General CRP signup has still not been announced. She gave a breakdown of the program status in NJ.

  • CREP– 144 approved contracts: FY05 -7; FY06 -26; FY07 -28; FY08 -62; FY09 -12; FY10 -9

  • NJ SAFE – 14 contracts approved with 180.5 acres enrolled; 6 pending offers for 130.0 acres

Breakdown of the 3 approved SAFE areas:

  • Development of Landscape Scale Agriculture Heritage and Habitat and Habitat Conservation Plans (NJAS) – (project area is 300 acres)

    •  Pending Offers            1, 41.7 acres

    •  Approved Contracts    1, 35.9 acres,

    •  Practices: CP38E-4 Vegetative Cover – Grass – Already Established

  • Grassland Habitat Restoration and Management (CWF) – (project is 400 acres)

    • Pending Offers   4, 70.5 acres

    • Approved Contracts    13, 144.6 acres

    • Practices: 

      • CP38B-3 Wetland Restoration, Non-Floodplain (2.5 ac)

      • CP38E-1 Established of Permanent Introduced Grasses & Legumes (15.7 ac)

      • CP38E-2 Established of Permanent Native Grasses (94.4 ac)

      • CP38E-3 Permanent Wildlife Habitat, Noneasement (23.5 ac)

      • CP38E-4 Vegetative Cover – Grass – Already Established (4.0 ac)

      • CP38E-7 Habitat Buffers for Upland Birds (4.5 ac)

  • Raritan-Piedmont Wildlife Habitat Partnership (RPWHP) Implementation of Grassland Conservation Plan – (project area is 300 acres)

    • Pending Offers   1, 17.8 acres

    • Approved Contracts    0

Practice payment caps - Janice discussed the policy on capping payments which was originally brought up at the last meeting. Since that time, we have had the practice (summer cover crop) which initiated our discussion thoroughly reviewed by our national office. The result was a change in the payment rate for summer cover and the addition of another practice to include some of the payment components taken out of the summer cover practice. The recommendations made by the Programs Subcommittee to strengthen the requirements of the practice were also incorporated in these changes.

New Business

Healthy Forest Reserve Program (HFRP) - Tim Dunne spoke about HFRP and provided a handout that gave an overview of the program. This program is another NRCS easement program. However, these easements are a maximum of 99 years.

Last year, the Nature Conservatory recommended a project area in Maurice River watershed; however that proposal was not submitted. Tim expects another Request for Proposals to be announced this fall or winter. As part of the program, there has to be a federally threatened and endangered species that is managed through the easement. PA has an approved area using the Indiana Bat. Tim would like to reach out to DE and have PA, NJ, DE and MD all target the same species. Tim’s target area would be from Trenton North. There was a suggestion that maybe northeast PA and NY would make better partners for one multi-state proposal. Everyone concurred that we should proceed.

National and State Proposals - Janice reported on the National and State CIG. National pre-proposals were due May 26th and we know of only one covering NJ. Once we know which pre-proposals were approved for submission of a full proposal, we will need to review and prepare letters of support.

State CIG deadline is Friday, June 4th @ 4:30 pm. We have not received any to date. Our NJ review team will work on the ranking and meet June 24th to provide recommendations for Tom’s final decision of funding.

There were only 10 eligible CCPI proposals received nationwide, none from NJ.

AWEP deadline for new proposals was May 17th. There were none from NJ and about 100 nationally.

Open discussion:

Dave Clapp – nothing new on the budget reported. Districts have received and will be signing the new confidentiality forms.

Mike reported that they are progressing well with their CIG and they are continuing to work with CNMP’s. They are planning a NJDA composting school to focus on the new rules to allow small farms on farm composting. Also, Mike reported that they are almost done with a new nutrient management DVD. Tim reported to Mike that Oct. 26, 27, & 28 national folks will hold a manure management training session that TSP’s will be invited to attend.

Troy reported that they are currently collecting information on grain crops, row crops and blueberries. A recent publication was released for vegetable and fruit production for 2009 and how we compare to other states. A GIS expert that recently came to NJ was very helpful with the collection of data.

Liz reported that FB has been busy with environmental issues. They recently met with the new DEP commissioner to discuss how they can function better together. EPA has recently released a new proposal covering chemical applications near water that may require blueberry and cranberry growers (and potentially others) to get permits. 

Kathy reported that they are still working on the ag mini grant programs together with North Jersey RC&D and NJDA. The program will provide matching and separate funding to producers in the Mulhockaway, Spruce Run, Long Valley and Neshanic watersheds, which is the approved NJ AWEP area.

Audrey reported that the federal register should be released tomorrow in reference to the chemical application that Liz reported on. She also handed out a new EPA Oil Spill Prevention Control fact sheet.

Dave Glenn reported that they hired a new employee to start June 17th working with outreach efforts, Joanna Dillon. On June 10th Danlynn farms will host a twilight meeting on writing an Organic System Plan. This program may be repeated in north Jersey in the fall. NOFA is also holding a 12-day program on permiculture program this fall. The Farm and Food Guide highlighting NJ sustainable farms is scheduled for release on June 11th. Their next newsletter is under production and they would like something from NRCS by the 3rd week of June. Finally, they hope to roll out the beginning farmer program this fall.

Karen talked about the “Common Waters” program headed up by the Pinchot Institute in the upper Delaware of NJ-NY-PA. There will be $2 million involved. She also mentioned upcoming changes to the Forest Stewardship Program which provides funds to develop forestry plans. Plans may now need to be at the landscape level. Also, states are working on their state assessments, which are required under the farm bill to identify state and multi-state priority areas and are due on 6/18. 

Nancy reported that FSA will be participating in an outreach event on June 30th at 7:30 pm hosted by Congressman Rush Holt. RD and NRCS are also participating. The event is part of a small business initiative; this particular evening will highlight USDA assistance to small farmers.

Barb Phillips mentioned that she has a 30 minute version of “Dirt the Movie” and it’s now available to loan to anyone interested.

Sharif reported a backlog of CTA requests due to the Farmland Preservation Program.

Janice reported that Kathleen could not attend today due to a department-wide meeting on DEP reorganization. The Division of Watershed Management, for whom she works, is set to be disbanded.

The next meeting is scheduled for Thursday, September 23, 2010 @ 10:00 am.

The meeting was adjourned at 11:35 am.

New Jersey State Technical Committee Minutes - Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The meeting was opened at 10:05 AM by Tom, who welcomed everyone and asked everyone to introduce themselves. Those in attendance: Amy Hansen NJCF, David Clapp NJDA, Charles Roohr NJDA-SADC, Tim Fekete NJDA-SSCC, Kathleen Hitchner NJDEP, Kim Korth NJDEP-DFW-ENSP, Jim Barresi NJDEP-Forestry, Liz Thompson NJFB, Marie Banasiak NJFB, Ken Klipstein NJWSA, David Glenn NOFA-NJ, Mike Westendorf RCE, Anne Heasly RPWHP, Sam Conard Somerset Co., Nancy Coles USDA-FSA, Torrey Reade FSA State Committee, Steve Peterson USDA-NASS, Barb Phillips USDA-NRCS, Christine Hall USDA-NRCS, Fran Grasso USDA-NRCS, Janice Reid USDA-NRCS, Maria Collazo USDA-NRCS, Marybeth Sorrentino USDA-NRCS, Sharif Branham USDA-NRCS, Tim Dunne USDA-NRCS, Tom Drewes USDA-NRCS, Howard Henderson USDA-RD, Audrey Moore USEPA Region 2, Kristina Heinemann USEPA Region 2.

The minutes were approved as e-mailed.

Tom mentioned that OMB has held back allocations for two programs. WHIP has a very small allocation at this time, and AMA also was cut slightly, but more funds may be released soon.

Committee Reports

Outreach Committee Update - Barbara Phillips reported that Google Calendar is being used by a few groups. She mentioned that there are events that could be posted to the calendar. Barb encouraged everyone to use the calendar; and asked for response from everyone on their use so that we can make it an effective tool.

Upcoming and recently completed outreach efforts include:
CSP information meetings: 5 meetings across the state in December, 2009
Vegetable Growers Meeting: information for new farmers, NRCS grazing programs, January
NOFA-NJ Conference: NRCS organic EQIP initiative, January
NJ Forestry Association: NRCS forestry EQIP initiative, March
Conservation Land Rally: WRP program, March

Program Committee Update - The sub-committee hasn’t meet recently. But based on our approved funding pool request, there will 7 pools in EQIP: Cropland, Irrigated Cropland, Forestry, Livestock, Transition Organic, Certified Organic, and Planning (for CAPs). Some pools are statewide and some are split between North Jersey and South Jersey. We also need to set funds aside for the Innovation Grants program.

WHIP has 3 approved pools with 2 priority concerns in each pool. Janice reported that we have a substantial number of good WHIP applications and we will not be able to fund all at this time.

AMA is done for 2010 and all money as been obligated unless we receive a further allocation.

Old Business

Nancy Coles handed out a report that highlights CREP activity through the years. She reported that there will be a multi agency CREP training session on May 5, 2010, at the Eco-Complex.

Nancy reported that the SAFE program has three project areas and gave the statistics of each area as indicated on her report.

Nancy reported that a general CRP signup is expected around June 2010; however the timeline may change. The last general signup was in spring 2006; there has not been a signup recently because of extensions that were given to expiring CRP contracts.

Nancy mentioned that the general signup requires a priority area to be established, no greater than 1/3 of the cropland acres in a state. The priority area expires every 5 years, and NJ’s area is now expiring. NJ FSA must submit a new priority area proposal or resubmit the current one.

The current priority area is state watershed management areas 17, 18, & 19 which meet the 1/3 requirement. The advantage of a priority area is points in the national ranking system. Nancy recommends that we keep the current area to benefit applications from south Jersey. Projects from north Jersey are generally on more highly erodible slopes and rank higher than projects from south Jersey. Since a general signup is competitive at the national level, it may result in more applications being funded. After some discussion, it was recommended that the priority area will remain the same.

NRCS Program Status

Applicant Eligibility: Janice proposed a new policy for applicant eligibility, allowable under the NRCS EQIP manual, due to apparent confusion on the part of both NRCS and our partners if an applicant is eligible for the programs. It was explained that program rules are developed from the statute, and program manuals from the rules. Manuals provide guidance for NRCS to administer the programs. The manual section on eligibility contains the language that has caused confusion.

The statue and rule do not require a minimum of $1000 of crops to be produced for an applicant to be considered an agricultural producer. The manual uses this criterion, however, but also provides the opportunity for State Technical Committee input on other ways to define agricultural producer eligibility. Janice is asking the State Technical Committee for their input on a NJ policy for this; suggesting that we let FSA make that determination. Tom asked Nancy Coles if FSA would have any issues on making these decisions. She did not anticipate any problems with FSA making these determinations.

After some discussion, it was agreed that the NJ policy for determining whether an applicant is an agricultural producer will be: NRCS will accept the FSA determination of whether an applicant is an agricultural producer based on the certifications and materials provided by the applicant to FSA. NRCS will use existing databases to determine this applicant status; if an applicant has land associated with their operation on an AD-1026A for the year the application is filed, NRCS will accept that the applicant is an eligible agricultural producer. This policy is for the definition of agricultural producer only; applicants still must qualify under the other eligibility requirements for HEL/WC and AGI, and have control of the land for which they are requesting assistance for the contract period.

Policy on capping payments: Janice explained the reason why we need to consider the idea of capping payments for some or all management practices. Due to the complexity of the considerations, Tom requested that the Programs sub-committee review options and bring a recommendation to the State Technical Committee at the next meeting.

GRP Geographic Area Rate Cap: At the last State Technical Committee meeting, the Committee concurred with a proposal for two rate caps, $12,000 for existing grasslands and $9,000 for land needing restoration to grass. These dual rates were questioned by HQ when they were sent down for approval. Janice conferred with Nancy on an alternative. Because an annual market survey analysis does not make sense when we have few if any easement applications under GRP, we know that we will need to do individual appraisals if and when anyone does apply. We can therefore use the actual appraisal to make an offer, and establish our GARC as a percent of the appraised value. It was agreed that if anyone applies for an easement through GRP, then an offer of 80% of the appraised value will be made. It was agreed to proceed with the “80% of appraised value” as our rate cap.

Nancy asked if April 30, 2010, is still the proposed cut-off for GRP signup. Janice confirmed. Nancy reported that there is only one application submitted at this time and it a request for rental only. Outreach is needed for this program.

WRP Action Plan items: Janice presented NJ’s WRP action plan. Janice reported that there will be staff training in June that will address some of the goals of the action plan. She reviewed the expanded land eligibility based on the 2008 Farm Bill. In general, land may be considered eligible if there is likelihood of successful restoration that will maximize wildlife benefits and wetland functions and values, and these benefits can be achieved at a reasonable cost. Some of those eligible land types are:

  • Former or degraded wetlands that occur on lands that have been used or are currently being used for the production of food and fiber, including forest production lands, where the hydrology has been significantly degraded or modified and will be substantially restored

  • Lands that have been scoured by floods or broken levees

  • Riparian areas along streams or other waterways are eligible providing the area establishes a link between:

    • Wetlands protected by an easement; or

    • Wetlands protected by an interest that achieves the same purpose as an easement such as a State or Federal wildlife management area.

  • Eligible wetlands previously restored under a local, State, or Federal restoration program, including FWS Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program, or privately developed wetland areas meeting or capable of meeting NRCS restoration standards and specifications as long as the land is not already subject to an existing easement that restricts agricultural use

  • Adjacent lands that will contribute significantly to the wetland functions and values or the practical administration of the enrolled area

  • Soils that in their natural condition would support hydrophytic vegetation and have the potential to have hydrophytic vegetation, hydrology, or both, restored, even if they do not appear as hydric soils on soils maps

Tom mentioned that there is a lot of opportunity for landowners to participate in this program, and for our partners to market this program in conjunction with other sources of funds to protect lands. Janice also mentioned that NRCS is co-funding a position with the Fish & Wildlife Service to do outreach for wetland programs.

New Business

National CIG, CCPI: There has been no National CIG or CCPI proposals released as of yet. NJ can not advertise our state CIG until after the national proposal is released. We also have not received any word on 2010 funding of our 2009-approved AWEP project.

Open Discussion

Sam mentioned that programs have changed so rapidly that farmers can not keep up with them. He suggested that an open house by area would help. Tom agreed that this could be done.

Kim handed out a brochure about on the NJ Wildlife Action Plan addressing the Piedmont Plains. Brochures for the other areas are also available.

Janice passed out bookmarks on the state soils developed by our soils staff, and a brochure on the 2008 Farm Bill conservation programs.

Howard mentioned new programs offered by RD, including a renewable energy program. The horticulture census is being completed and data will be available soon

Jim mentioned two new pieces of NJ legislation; Forest Stewardship and a bill authorizing Licensed Tree Experts. Rules have to be developed. He also stated that the recent snow has impacted the state’s prescribed burning efforts.

Dave Clapp mentioned that it has been 12 months since the basic animal waste rules were established. All ag operations in the state must comply very soon.

Dave Glenn mentioned there was very good response with session Tim and Janice did at their annual conference on the EQIP organic program. He’s writing a grant to fund a beginning farmer program.

Amy announced the Conservation Land Rally on March 20th.

Kristina reported that region 2 is establishing a work group that will address ag issues.

Liz mentioned that they are getting acquainted with the new leaders in Trenton.

Christine mentioned that work is being done on the NJ Farm Land assessment rules. There are opportunities to address purpose issues and the out-of-date soils information.

Nancy mentioned that the BCAP is on hold except for the CHST (hauling) payments. The final rules for the program on up for review and that comment period will end on April 9, 2010.

Tim Fekete mentioned that the governor addressed the attendees at the ag convention and gave some positive comments on the importance of NJ ag to the state’s economy. Tim also announced that there is $405,000 left in cost share money for the 8 year program participants. Many applications have been received for this money but there is still some money available.

Mike reported that Extension continues to play a role in education, and is working with the districts to write CNMP’s. CIG grant received last year has been making good progress.

Chuck reported that the legislation for allowing renewable energy on permanently preserved farms has passed and rules are being worked on. The complication is that the legislation would require any renewable energy projects on farms to get approval, even if the energy produced is used solely on the farm.

Kathleen reported that a bill to extend the waste plan deadline, which also would extend sewer coverage to 100% of the state, has been put on hold by the Christie administration.

Tom closed the meeting with an explanation of the NRCS initiative on high tunnels. NJ decided not to participate in this program for 3 reasons: The practice is not consistent with what NJ promotes for reducing impervious surfaces; the practice is not proven technology in that there may be negative impacts on other resource concerns, and funds would have to come from our current EQIP funding, where we currently fund only 1 of 3 applicants.

The next meeting is scheduled for Thursday, June 3, 2010 @ 10:00 a.m.

The meeting was adjourned at 12:20 p.m.


This page last updated August 25, 2014.