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Rhode Island State Technical Team Meeting Notes Sept 2011

September 8, 2011
USDA Conference Room
Warwick, RI

Attending:  Michael Kenyon (NRCS), Jade Nield (NRCS), Michael Moorman (NRCS), Eric Boettger (NRCS), Nicole Bernier (NRCS), Tom Abbott (RI DEM), Ernest Panciera (RI - DEM Office of Water Resources), Rupert Friday (RI Land Trust), Dick Went (RIACD), John O'Brien (TNC), Heather Faubert (URI), Marilu Soileau (FSA) Rick Pace (Eco Assetts).
 

Introductions, Review Agenda, and Opening Comments

Phou V. welcomed everyone and thanked all who are in attendance. Phou added, as we go through the agenda you will notice some important changes. Some highlighted changes: NHQ is starting to regionalize NRCS's Financial Assistance Program's Practice Payment List. The Farm Bill is moving forward. The Energy Initiative is moving forward. Chief White has implemented the 90/10 Plan which enables Field Staff to spend 90% of their time in the field and 10% in the office.

- Dick Went - If you need anything Farm Bill related (i.e. Shellfish Restoration Program)
- Dick is serving on a new committee with NHQ starting next week.
 

Farm Bill Financial Assistance Programs

2011 Program Review

  • Agricultural Management Assistance Program (AMA)
  • 4 Contracts / $55,182.00 obligated
  • Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)
  • 166 Contracts / $3,212,815.60 obligated
  • Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP)
  • 29 Contracts / $391,919.00 obligated

Fund Codes

  • For each fund code there is a separate ranking system. As a farmer, you can pick a fund code on your own, which matches your situation or eligibility criteria; it is not NRCS' decision.
  • As a member of the STT, if you see a resource concern that you think needs additional funds, please let us know so we may request to implement a new initiative and allocate funds at the beginning of the FY.
  • If a farmer signs up for the "Transition to Organic" option, they must have an Organic Systems Plan in place to qualify for the "EQIP - Transition to Organic" fund.

Easement Programs Update

Farm and Ranchlands Protection Program (FRPP)

  •  Preparing documents for upcoming closings on 4 parcels
  • Working with DEM and TNC on an existing agreement as a FY12 agreement
     
  • NRCS will announce a ranking in the beginning of FY12. We publicized a second signup, pending available funding. We received applications, but were not able to fund additional agreements since we have used all of our allocation for FY11.
     
  • Applications received for 11 parcels. 6 parcels out of the 11 parcels were eligible for FRPP
  • Four agreements were obligated for the amount of $4.1 mile

Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP)

  • There is 1 existing easement in the state (SRICD)
  • Existing TNC agreement amended to add $15K which was sent to TNC for review and signatures. Also, discussion on future FY12 agreements
  • NRCS received 4 applications in FY11
  • Appraisal completed for 1, finalizing 1, and the remaining 2 are in the process of being completed

Grasslands Reserve Program (GRP)

  • Received 3 applications in FY11
  • There are 4 existing easements in RI

Technical Assistance

FOTG Update

  • Notice 150 - 10 standards
  • Notice 151 - 5 standards
  • Notice 152 - 32 standards

Note - All emails, pertaining to FOTG, that come through on the Web page will receive a response by staff.
 

FY 12 Local Work Groups Program Rankings

Review FY12 state & local questions

  • NRCS uses one set of ranking questions
  • NRCS cannot change the total points, but can change to amount of points that pertain to a specific question
  • Joe Bachand asked the STT if they would like to go over all the questions; all opted to read them on their own.
  • Local Team will receive an email from Joe Bachand, with changes recommended by team, for final review and comments.

 

Regional Payment Schedules (Added Agenda Item)

  • The top 15 practices used in ProTracts during 2010 will have regional costs applied and will be available to use for 2012 contracts on November 1, 2011. Other lesser used practices and high-cost, high-variability practices will continue using 2011 approved payment schedules until they can all be regionalized for 2013. The current manual system to record and document schedules will be maintained in 2012. An automated system will be ready for implementation of 2013 contracts.
  • The major steps in developing regional payment schedules include:
  • Develop Regional Scenarios (no more than 8 per practice)
  • Cost Development
  • Finalizing Scenarios for each state

Partnership Reports

Rupert Friday - RI Land Trust Council
Holding a land leasing workshop for land trust and municipalities
When: Thursday, October 27, 2011, 5:00p to 9:00p
Location: USDA Conference Room

Dick Went - RIACD
Dick received notification of a grant obtained. Walter will be sending out a Press Release ASAP. The money will be used in three areas:

1. Feasibility study
2. Implement a Web tool on the Agriculture Partnership Web site
3. Financial Planning Training Modules for farmers

Marilu Soileau - FSA
Administering relief efforts due to Hurricane Irene

Next meeting: November 3, 2011 (9:30 AM - 12 Noon).