The Latest Developments in Natural Resources Conservation

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What the 2018 Farm Bill Means for Urban, Suburban and Rural America

Tom Vilsack, Colorado State University, January 16, 2018 – Since the turn of the year, Congress and the Trump administration have been haggling over legislative priorities for 2018. Many issues are on the agenda, from health care to infrastructure, but there has been little mention of a key priority: The 2018 farm bill.

This comprehensive food and agriculture legislation is typically enacted every four or five years. When I became U.S. secretary of agriculture in January 2009, I learned quickly that the bill covers much more than farms and farmers. In fact, every farm bill also affects conservation, trade, nutrition, jobs and infrastructure, agricultural research, forestry and energy.


USDA Seeks Applications for $10 Million in Conservation Innovation Grants

NASHVILLE, Dec. 18, 2017 – The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is offering grants for innovative ideas for conservation strategies and technologies. USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS​) plans to invest $10 million in the Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) program, funding innovative conservation projects in three focus areas: grazing lands, organic systems and soil health. Grant proposals are due February 26, 2018.


USDA NRCS in Tennessee Now Accepting FY 2018 EQIP Applications Application Deadline: Friday, November 17, 2017

NASHVILLE, October 17, 2017 Producers in Tennessee who are interested in implementing conservation practices to improve natural resources on their farmland have until Friday, November 17, 2017 to submit their application for financial assistance through the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). 


Tennessee NRCS Announces a November 6, 2017 Application Deadline for Eligible Agricultural Entities and Individual Landowners

NASHVILLE – The United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has announced an application deadline for Tennessee eligible entities to apply for fiscal year 2018 funding for the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program  (ACEP). The deadline to apply is Monday, November 6, 2017. Tennessee will accept applications for ACEP on a continuous basis, but deadlines must be set to evaluate the applications.


South Korea Lifts US Poultry Ban

WASHINGTON, Aug. 17, 2017 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced today that the government of South Korea has lifted its ban on imports of U.S. poultry and poultry products, including fresh eggs. Korea had imposed the ban in response to a recent detection of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI).

Earlier this year, USDA worked with Korea’s agriculture ministry to reopen the market for U.S. eggs and egg products, but imports were again restricted after the HPAI detection in Tennessee.


USDA Releases Five-Year Strategy to Improve Forest Health in Appalachia While Helping Golden-winged Warbler

WASHINGTON, August 8, 2017 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today released a new five-year conservation strategy to support private landowners managing for healthier forests in the Appalachian Mountains, part of an ongoing effort to help the golden-winged warbler rebound, and avoid the need for regulation of the species. This strategy serves as a game plan for how USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and its conservation partners can best meet their goal of helping landowners adopt bird-friendly practices on more than 15,000 acres of young forests and shrublands over the next five years.


USDA Announces $15 Million Public-Private Investment to Improve Critical Wetlands

WASHINGTON, July 20 2017 – The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service today announced that the agency will award $13 million to projects in seven states to protect, restore and enhance wetlands on private and tribal agricultural lands. The projects are being funded under the Wetland Reserve Enhancement Partnership (WREP).

Tennessee:  The purpose of this project is to achieve more sustainable land and water management in the active floodplain of the Lower Mississippi, thus providing significant ecological, economic and societal benefits. This is predominantly restoration and enhancement work of existing easements. The proposed project constitutes the fourth phase of a continuing effort that began in 2012. Efforts to date under Phases I-III have resulted in applications of enrollment for approximately 16,000 acres of private land in the project area. NRCS plans to invest $4 million in this project to restore or enhance an additional 1,301 acres in Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee.


USDA Program Helps Nonprofits Innovate New Certification for Bee-Friendly Farms 

WASHINGTON, June 19, 2017 – A new certification program enables agricultural producers to let consumers know they are farming in ways that benefit bees. Funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation partnered with Oregon Tilth to develop and launch the Bee Better Certified program offsite link image    .
“Bee Better Certified is working with conservation-minded farmers to meet a growing interest from consumers to know how their food choices impact bees,” said Xerces Executive Director Scott Hoffman Black. “Many species of bees have suffered declines over the years, but by creating habitat and reducing pesticide use, Bee Better is generating meaningful change on working farms, helping to preserve crop pollinators and the valuable services they provide to farmers.”


 USDA Announces More than $22 Million in Conservation Innovation 

WASHINGTON, June 8, 2017 - The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) today announced that the agency will award more than $22.6 million to drive public and private sector innovation in resource conservation.  The agency is investing in 33 projects nationwide through its competitive Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) program, which helps develop the tools, technologies, and strategies to support next-generation conservation efforts on working lands and develop market-based solutions to resource challenges. Public and private grantees - including non-governmental organizations, American Indian tribes, academic institutions and local government entities - will leverage the federal investment by at least matching it.


Tennessee NRCS Emergency Watershed Protection Program Fire Recovery Efforts Underway on Gatlinburg and Sevier County Roadsides

NASHVILLE, May 3, 2017 – The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has made great strides through its Emergency Watershed Protection Program (EWPP) to stabilize roadsides that were damaged during the wildfires that ripped through Sevier County in late November 2016.

It has been nearly six months since the wildfires—which began on Chimney Tops mountain and eventually spread to Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and other areas in Sevier County—killed 14 people, destroyed 2,013 homes and 53 commercial structures, and burned 17,000 acres of mountainous rural and urbanized watersheds.

After all of the fire damage and devastation, Sevier County was left to find ways to mitigate the severely burned watershed areas to reduce the threat to life and property from issues like soil erosion, sedimentation, and potential flooding.


Tennessee NRCS Provides Drought Assistance to Address Pasture and Hayland

NASHVILLE, April 7, 2017 – As a result of the drought issues faced by Tennessee’s pasture and hayland producers, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is providing  financial and technical assistance through its Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) Drought Special Sign Up to help address natural resource concerns on damaged land in counties with D2 (Severe), D3 (Extreme), and D4 (Exceptional) drought conditions—as designated on the U.S. Drought Monitor map dated November 22, 2016.