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Client Gateway: Conservation Information Just a Click Away

Conservation Client GatewayImagine this– shortly after waking up and grabbing a quick breakfast, you run outside to meet your 6 a.m. crew to start harvesting your tomatoes. Mid-summer rains are in the forecast, and that would spell disaster. The crews arrive and get to work. The trucks are driving in empty, pulling out full with this year's crop. You break for a quick lunch and see an email from your local USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) office saying your application has been approved and it's time to sign. Your day is packed! Definitely not enough time to drive the 35 minutes to the office to sign a sheet of paper – no matter how important it is that you get your signature on it ASAP.

Well, NRCS has a solution for you, and it’s called Client Gateway. Much like online banking, Client Gateway allows a farmer to see just about everything in their file. Contract information, applied conservation practices, forms, maps of your farm boundaries and applications for new assistance. You’ll be able to create a legal “e-signature” to sign documents and notifications are built in to help you monitor your application statuses. All in one place. From the comfort of your kitchen table.

Client Gateway isn’t for everyone…yet. It can take a bit of trial and error to get it up and running, and a reasonable amount of patience. But for those landowners that don’t live near their NRCS offices, are absentee landowners, enjoy doing business online or simply like the idea of to having their contract documents available anytime electronically– Client Gateway can be the perfect solution.

Take Darrell Cordova, a Stanislaus County farmer and local Resource Conservation District director who, with the help of NRCS Soil Conservationist Brook Fuller, spent a few hours setting up his Client Gateway account. Along the way, both discovered that the online service has a weakness in being unable to display data on Cordova’s different farm holdings held in trusts. It was an excellent feedback scenario that is helping NRCS developers refine the service to address a wider demographic of farms. “Thanks to Darrell, we realized we needed a fix for farmers operating as trusts,” said Fuller. “That fix is now underway and expected in about six months. But for those who don’t have that arrangement, Client Gateway should work well now.”

Johnnie Siliznoff, a Fresno County farmer and also an NRCS district conservationist in Madera County, is able to see Client Gateway’s strengths from different points of view. “As both a customer and a provider of NRCS services,” Siliznoff says, “I see Client Gateway as perfect for people who cannot be in multiple places at once—that’s most of us,” he laughs.

Growing grapes, peaches, almonds, and pistachios, on different parcels of land with different harvest and irrigation schedules, anything that helps Siliznoff be more efficient with his time is a plus. When setting up his Client Gateway account, he had his own questions about its capabilities, and now applies his own experience to help customers that are beginning to use Client Gateway for themselves.

In the end, Client Gateway is a work in progress. NRCS has created a Conservation Delivery Streamlining Initiative (CDSI) to both develop and refine Client Gateway into an online platform that can work for a wide range of conservation customers. While most farmers are able to use Client Gateway now, the kind of feedback Cordova supplied is just what CDSI team members need to continue to refine the platform. “The more people that use Client Gateway, and provide feedback,” says Fuller, “the better the platform will become for the future of conservation delivery by NRCS.”

If you have any questions about Client Gateway and how you can begin to use it, please contact your local NRCS service center or visit https://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov/locator/app?state=CA.