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 Conservation Stewardship Program helps producers

Agricultural producers wanting to enhance current conservation efforts are encouraged to apply for the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP).

Through CSP, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) helps private landowners build their business while implementing conservation practices that help ensure the sustainability of their entire operation. NRCS plans to enroll up to 10 million acres in CSP in 2018. While applications for CSP are accepted year round, applications must be received by March 2, 2018, to be considered for this funding period.

Through CSP, agricultural producers and forest landowners earn payments for actively managing, maintaining, and expanding conservation activities like nutrient and pest management, cover crops and tree plantings– all while maintaining active agriculture production on their land. CSP also encourages the adoption of cutting-edge technologies and new management techniques such as precision agriculture applications, on-site carbon storage and planting for high carbon sequestration rate, and new soil amendments to improve water quality.

Benefits include: Improved cattle gains per acre; Increased crop yields; Decreased inputs; Wildlife population improvements; and Better resilience to weather extremes.

NRCS recently made several updates to the program to help producers better evaluate their conservation options and the benefits to their operations and natural resources. New methods and software for evaluating applications help producers see up front why they are or are not meeting stewardship thresholds, and allow them to pick practices and enhancements that work for their conservation objectives. These tools also enable producers to see potential payment scenarios for conservation early in the process.

Producers interested in CSP are recommended to contact their local USDA service center or visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/GetStarted.

NDA seeks proposals for specialty crop grants

LINCOLN – The Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) is currently accepting grant proposals for its 2018 Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP). NDA administers the program, which is funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The deadline for submitting proposals is Feb. 9.

“Nebraska’s specialty crop industry is thriving with help from the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program,” said NDA Director Steve Wellman. “The program supports research, development and marketing of specialty crops and offers resources for innovative projects and ideas that help grow Nebraska’s ag industry.”

Specialty crops are fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, horticulture and nursery crops (including floriculture).

For the 2018 SCBGP, NDA anticipates approximately $600,000 will be available to fund new projects. Producers, organizations and associations, as well as state and local agencies, educational groups and other specialty crops stakeholders are eligible to apply.

Thirteen specialty crop projects were funded in Nebraska last fall through the program for a total of nearly $600,000.

This year’s proposals will be reviewed and scored using select criteria. Applicants who make it through the first round will be asked to submit additional information. NDA and USDA will announce the projects receiving funding in the fall.

Instructions for submitting a proposal, proposal applications, performance measures and program guidelines are available on NDA’s website at nda.nebraska.gov/promotion/scbgp/index.html. All proposals should be saved as a Microsoft Word .docx file and sent electronically to casey.foster@nebraska.gov by the Feb. 9 deadline. For additional information contact: Casey Foster at (402) 471-4876, or by the email listed above.

To view a comprehensive list of eligible specialty crops and examples of projects funded under the SCBGP, visit USDA’s website at ams.usda.gov/services/grants/scbgp.

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