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STC Minutes

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Jerome Tucker, Tech Team/FSA State Committee
Henry Burkwhat, USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service
Reggie Thackston, GA-DNR, WRD
Lynn Lewis-Weis, Nat’l Wild Turkey Federation
Robert Farris, Georgia Forestry Commission
Bedell Finley, Farmer (Sparta, GA)
Craig Scroggs, USDA-Rural Development
Julius George, USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service
Jack Lewis, USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service
Bryan Barrett, USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service
Dennis Brown, Georgia Soil & Water Conservation Commission
David Eigenberg, Georgia Soil & Water Conservation Commission
David Walden, USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service
Scott Griffin, Georgia Forestry Commission
Jim Ozier, GA-Department of Natural Resources, WRD
Michael Watson, USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service
Richard Barrett, USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service
Sidney Lanier, USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service
H.B. “Pete” Waller, Coastal S&W RC&D
Robert Brooks, US Fish & Wildlife Service
Calvin Hyer, USDA-Farm Service Agency
James E. Tillman, Sr., USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service
Aquanda Jones, USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service
Maryann Trent, USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service
Chris Groskreutz, USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service
Jack Hufstetler, Georgia Soil & Water Conservation Commission
Tony Black, Georgia Soil & Water Conservation Commission
Earl Barrs, forest landowner
Wayne Bell, International Forest Co.
Carrie Fowler, Georgia Soil & Water Conservation Commission
Mary Branch, USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Commission

Welcome – James Tillman, Sr., State Conservationist

Mr. Tillman called the State Technical Committee meeting (STC) to order and thanked everyone for attending. He stated that Agency-wide we are moving to the second phase for Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Different initiatives and information is out to different partners.

Everyone introduced themselves. Mr. Tillman asked Aquanda Jones, Assistant State Conservationist (Program) to give a brief overview of the STC information package. Mr. Tillman also asked the group for feedback on Easement programs FY13.

Programs Update – Aquanda Jones, Assistant State Conservationist (Programs)

Ms. Jones informed the group that the Farm Bill has been extended and expires September 30, 2013. The new CCC-933 Average Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) was recently released.

  • Wetland Reserve Program (WRP) – taking applications; awaiting NHQ (no dates for sign-up/cut-off)
  • Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) – No sign-up announced; waiting for National approval for Financial Assistant (FA)
  • Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) Initiatives application deadline February 15, 2013.
  • Working Lands for Wildlife application deadline is March 15, 2013 ($4.5 million to State)
  • AWEP deadline is April 19, 2013

Financial Assistant (FA) for mandatory programs FY-13 sub-total, NRCS, funds - $57,973,492.00

Microloans Program– Calvin Hyer, Farm Service Agency

Hyer gave a brief overview of the Microloans program. He noted that this is a simplified application process and less paperwork for small producers and non-traditional farm operations for initial start-up expenses. Eligible applicants may obtain a microloan up to $35,000 with reasonable interest not to exceed 18 months. He also noted operating expense uses of loan.

Forestry Sub-Committee – Maryann Trent

Trent thanked Scott Griffin, GFC and Michael Sampson, NRCS for names submitted to serve on committee. The committee will look at programs to see what all agencies are doing; what area they need to focus on and will be putting together a letter for upcoming meeting and have report for next STC meeting. Tillman asked committee to look at things that the STC is focused on.

FY13 Allocation vs FY STC priorities – Aquanda Jones

Jones stated that progress has been made. We are at a standstill with budget on easement partnership. Jones also pointed out that this is the first year that we are working with a regional cost-list. Tillman asked for feedback on state accounts for CAFO. There is a new 590 nutrient management standard. He will run scenario.

Cooperative Agreements – Craig Scroggs

Scroggs gave a brief overview of value-added producer grants. He touched on product eligibility, activity eligibility, applicant eligibility, and grant limitations. Expecting $14 million for funding for FY-13. He spoke briefly on renewable energy & energy efficiency eligibility for small businesses. Grant applications are being accepted for 2013. No deadline has been set. Tillman recommended that Aquanda Jones work with Craig Scoggs to look at proposal of funding applications; energy audits. For additional information on Renewable Energy and Energy and Value-added producer grants, contact Craig Scroggs at

Wildlife Biologist Opportunity – Reggie Thackston, WRD

  • Contribution agreement is a two (2) year agreement
  • Four (4) Wildlife biologist; position location: Early, Emanuel, Coffee, and Henry Counties
  • 50/50 cost-share
  • 2-year total $637,280

Focus on training, conservation planning, follow-up with field visits and easement monitoring.

LLPI priority Update – Scott Griffin, Georgia Forestry Commission

  • Partnership with different agencies
  • LLPI workshop – March 12, 2013 Buena Vista
  • Longleaf pine assessment project (look at work that has been done and draw conclusion for results expected); planting density

Tillman asked group if NRCS is headed in the right direction in forestry; tree planting acres vs. components, etc. He also challenged the sub-committee to look at economic factors.

EQIP - National Water Quality Initial – Henry Burkwhat, Program Analyst

  • $33 million nation-wide
  • 303(d) listed in watershed
  • $880 million FY-2012 funding; $774 million FY-2013
  • Proposed watershed for funding by March 15, 2013
  • CIG – requesting approval ($300,000 set-aside for FY-13)

Tillman stated that we will try to stay with same watershed as last year.

Strike Force – Chris Groskreutz, Acting Public Affairs Specialist

Strike Force Initiative began FY-10 with poverty stricken counties. FY-12 over $2 billion in obligations were made to farmers, ranchers, businesses, communities, and individuals which NRCS providing $139 million, FSA exceeding $237 million and RD almost $1.5 billion to strike force areas. In Georgia, one (1) out of three (3) participants gets funded. Next strike force meeting will be held February 7, 2013 at Fort Valley State University (FVSU).

Other Business/action items:

Attach copy of map of strike force counties in Georgia to minutes.
Legislature passed – GA Agriculture Tax Program
Department of website (attach to minutes)

There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned. Next meeting, Thursday, April 25, 2013.