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Kansas Technical Subcommittee - Spetember 12, 2017

Kansas Technical Committee
September 12, 2017
Agricultural Conservation Easement Program / Wetland Reserve Easements
Subcommittee Teleconference

Attendees:

  • Bruce K. Wells, Assistant State Conservationist-Water Resources, NRCS
  • Lynn E. Thurlow, ACEP-WRE Program Manager, NRCS
  • Kris R. Ethridge, Acting Assistant State Conservationist-Program, NRCS
  • Bob Culbertson, Wetland and WRAPS Coordinator, KAWS
  • Jessica Mounts, Executive Director, KAWS
  • Jim Hays, Conservation Project Manager, TNC
  • Matt Hough, Manager, Conservation Programs, DU Inc.
  • Kent Askren, Public Policy, Kansas Farm Bureau
  • Kolt Bevin, Wetlands Program Manager, Kickapoo Tribe
  • Matt Unruh, Water Resource Planner, Kansas Water Office
  • Matt Smith, Farm Bill Coordinator, KDWPT
  • Mike Disney, Private Land Supervisor, FWS
  • Amanda Reed, WRAPS Program Manager, KDHEKS
  • Joe Kramer, Wetland Coordinator, KAWS and Special Projects Manager, DU Inc.
  • Ron Klataske, Executive Director, Audubon of Kansas

Bruce Wells opened with greetings to all and stated the purpose of the meeting was to review and discuss the fiscal year 2018 - Kansas - Geographic Area Rate Caps (GARC) map and make KTC recommendation to Eric B. Banks, State Conservationist. He reminded the group that KTC had recommended using GARCs for FY18 and Eric had approved that recommendation in May. He also advised the committee that this map is a draft and should not be disclosed as it requires approval from NRCS National Headquarters.

Lynn Thurlow greeted the group and presented information on the methods that NRCS is to consider when making offers to landowners. He explained that an easement offer to a landowner is to be the lesser of an appraisal, geographic area rate cap (GARC), or landowner offer. All valuation starts with an appraisal of some kind, Area Wide Market Appraisal (AWMA) as was completed in Kansas for FY2018 or an individual site appraisal. If the parcel being offered does not fit the parameters used for the AWMA, then an individual site appraisal would need to be completed. The GARC is a value that is less than the appraisal. This is determined by establishing a percentage number that represents the residual value of the easement property. Kansas had established a 5% residual back in 2014 and continue to use this value for setting GARCs. Values for the market areas and if needed individual site appraisals would be 95% of the determined fair market value. Utilizing GARC rates from the map would save on costs for individual appraisal and lets landowner know what an offer rate is when they sign up for the program. He concluded with any questions, thoughts, or comments.

Joe Kramer referenced the GARC rate for 2014/2015, and the low number of applications received. Concern that with the FY18 rate, $393 lower than FY17 rate, may lower landowner interest in the program. He also noted they have been promoting the program with the 2017 rates and with the 2018 rate being lower, some landowners may not want to continue with their applications. Going to be a short turn-around time once the 2018 rates are out to get back with the landowner.

Lynn stated that the 2018 GARC rates are a decrease from last year. The agricultural economy is largely driving this downward movement. Having approved GARC rates will help landowner make decisions on their farms and determine if ACEP-WRE is a program they want to participate in. Approval of the FY18 GARC rate will give NRCS and partners current information to share with landowner as they provide technical assistance.

Joe Kramer reiterated about 2016/2017, sign up was different and applications were high in certain areas. The higher GARC rate, could be an indicator or a factor for the increase interest this past year. With the rate proposed to go down, interest may fade.

Lynn mentioned that we do look at surrounding states and Colorado and Oklahoma do individual appraisals, Nebraska and Missouri do use the GARC. Number of applications a state gets generally determines if they use one or the other.

Matt Hough remarked applications in A2 - we are losing ground in that area, maybe propose some changes in the area next year.

Lynn responded that last year, A2 had the greatest percent change in value, might need to look at some other factors to valuate that particular item. Matt said he could provide info, maybe even do a comparison - east to west.

Lynn commented on the GARC rate, that some states have rates for different land types and other measures. We have tried to simplify, this may or may not be beneficial - agricultural cropland areas - not a lot of grassland. He proceeded that draft GARC map will be reviewed with the State Conservationist and submitted to National for approval.

Matt Smith asked that at last KTC meeting there was something mentioned about ACEP Program training.

Bruce responded that NRCS is looking at possibly a 2-day session in each NRCS area, across the state. First round would be in the A1 and A2, hopefully before end of the year. Plan for A3 and A4, maybe the first of 2018.

Joe Kramer to Lynn Thurlow: "Thank you" for your coordination at the local level, excellent job, his understandable and user-friendly access he provided to all those who called upon him regarding the program. He did a really good job in dealing with that.

Lynn thanked him as well.

Bob Culbertson - about training - Kansas Wetlands planning for January 9th/10th - landowners, invited, DCs, and others - will have Lynn for both days.

Bruce stated, he will schedule meeting with STC to take the recommended GARC rates for approval.

Teleconference ended.