Ag Policy Blog

NRCS Seeks Comments on Conservation Programs

Jerry Hagstrom
By  Jerry Hagstrom , DTN Political Correspondent
USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is seeking public comment on proposed revisions to 23 national conservation practice standards through a posting in the Federal Register on Tuesday. (DTN file photo)

USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is seeking public comment on proposed revisions to 23 national conservation practice standards through a posting in the Federal Register on Tuesday.

Comments are due April 8.

“NRCS wants to ensure that the standards used to carry out the conservation practices are relevant to local agricultural, forestry and natural resource needs,” Acting NRCS Chief Terry Cosby said. “We are revising conservation practice standards to make sure they are the best technology and address the needs of producers and the natural resources on their land.”

Proposed revisions to the national conservation practice standards include:

- Stream crossing: modification to allow vented fords as an alternative.

- Waste treatment milk house: inclusion as a new conservation practice for the treatment of greywater from the cleaning of milking equipment.

- Energy Efficient Agricultural Operation: formerly known as Farmstead Energy Improvement, rewritten to focus on energy efficiency criteria, fire and electrical safety, flexibility, and manufacturer's requirements.

- Dry hydrant: adding flexibility intended to encourage more landowners to install dry hydrants to meet fire suppression needs.

The 2018 farm bill required NRCS to review all 169 existing national conservation practices to seek opportunities to increase flexibility and incorporate new technologies to help the nation's farmers, ranchers, and private forest landowners better protect natural resources on their working lands, USDA noted.

In 2020, 57 conservation practice standards were updated after public review and are available on the NRCS website. NRCS' conservation practices offer guidelines for planning, installing, operating and maintaining conservation practices nationwide.

Comments can be made through regulations.gov or by mail or hand delivery, as detailed in the notice.

? Federal Register – Proposed revisions to the National Handbook of Conservation Practices for the Natural Resources Conservation Service https://public-inspection.federalregister.gov/…

Senate Ag Committee Witnesses for Climate Hearing

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and Senate Agriculture ranking member John Boozman, R-Ark., on Monday announced that the witnesses at the committee's hearing titled Farmers and Foresters: Opportunities to Lead in Tackling Climate Change will be the following:

- Cori Wittman Stitt, farmer adviser, Environmental Defense Fund, Lapwai, Idaho

- Stefanie Smallhouse, president, Arizona Farm Bureau Federation, Gilbert, Ariz.

- John Reifsteck, chairman, GROWMARK cooperative, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, Bloomington, Ill.

- Mark Isbell, farmer, USA Rice, England, Ark.

- Clay Pope, farmer, National Farmers Union, Loyal, Okla.

The hearing will be held 10:15 a.m. Thursday and will be streamed live through the Senate Agriculture Committee website:

https://www.agriculture.senate.gov/…

NASDA: Continue Food Boxes with Policy Changes

USDA should continue the Farmers to Families Food Box program that was started by the Trump administration, but make changes to allow more meat and greater flexibility, the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture said in a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

NASDA highlights changes in the programs such as increasing the variety of meat products by removing current limits on only pre-cooked meats.

State directors also stated USDA should consider the adverse impact on smaller farmers and distributors when local contracts are awarded to venders based solely on the lowest price.

The full letter and recommendations from NASDA: https://s3.amazonaws.com/…

Jerry Hagstrom can be reached at jhagstrom@nationaljournal.com

Follow him on Twitter @hagstromreport

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