Natural Resources Conservation Service
NMPF Comments on CSP Interim Final Rule - October 29, 2009
NMPF provided comments to USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) regarding the interim final rule implementing the 1985 Food Security Act’s Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), as created in Section 2301 of the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008.
USDA Announces Mississippi River Basin Initiative - September 24, 2009
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced a new initiative to improve water quality and the overall health of the Mississippi River Basin in a taped address to a federal task force on Gulf of Mexico hypoxia. The Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative (MRBI) will provide approximately $320 million over the next four years for voluntary projects in priority watersheds located in 12 states -- Arkansas, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, and Wisconsin.
Participation by farmers is fully voluntary and the initiative will be managed by USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). The MRBI will carry out projects in each of the priority watersheds in partnership with groups that can work effectively with farmers on these practices, and the groups selected for this purpose will be identified through a competitive process.
The funds used for MRBI and the effort overall will not detract from the general conservation cost share programs like EQIP and CSP that will continue to provide conservation assistance to all eligible producers throughout these states.
This initiative is designed to help producers like dairy farmers in these targeted watersheds improve their manure and nutrient management, reduce runoff and adopt practical, economical measures that should help improve water quality in their communities, down the Mississippi and into the Gulf of Mexico. Through a combination of field level and watershed monitoring and modeling efforts over a 10-15 year period, the MRBI will also seek to quantitatively capture the benefits being provided to water quality by farmers voluntary efforts.
For information about the Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative, including eligibility requirements, please visit www.nrcs.usda.gov or your USDA Service Center.
This Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) site serves as a repository of information about the task force, and provides public access to Federal Register notices, meeting minutes, reports and documents, and official communiqués from and about the task force.
This website provides specific information (including links to state sign-up information) about the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). EQIP provides cost-share, and in some instances, incentive payments for producers who install and maintain qualifying conservation practices.
Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plans
The Unified National AFO Strategy sets a national performance expectation for all AFOs to develop and implement site-specific Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plans (CNMPs). The majority of these plans would be developed an implemented voluntarily by AFOs, while Concentrated AFOs (CAFOs) would be required to develop and implement CNMPs under the regulatory National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit program.
USDA released its Technical Guidance for CNMP Development. The CNMP Technical Guidance was intended for use by NRCS staff, private consultants, producers, and others that would assist in developing CNMPs. The document was not intended to be a sole reference for developing CNMPs, but rather as a tool in addition to other resources referenced in the Guidance.
A CNMP is a grouping of appropriate conservation practices and management activities to help ensure that AFOs can achieve both agricultural production goals and natural resource concerns. The main elements under consideration in CNMP development are:
Manure and wastewater handling and storage
Land treatment practices
Other waste utilization options (compost, etc.)