Program Rewards Farmers and Ranchers for Environmental Stewardship
The cutoff date for farmers and ranchers to apply to participate in the 2012 sign-up for the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) is Jan. 13, 2012. The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), which runs the program, has given indications the deadline may be extended, but at this point in time the extension cannot be assured, so farmers interested in participating are advised to get their short, two page application form turned-in by Jan. 13.
The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, which helped develop the program and has followed its progress closely, has issued a five-page Information Alert on the 2012 sign-up. The document is available free online by clicking here. In addition to basic sign-up information and pointers, the alert also describes changes made to the program for this sign-up, including new conservation practices and enhancements being offered.
The CSP is a working lands conservation program available on a nationwide basis. CSP offers technical and financial assistance to farmers and ranchers for adopting and maintaining high standards of resource conservation and environmental stewardship. Assistance is geared to both the active management of existing conservation systems and for implementing new conservation activities on land in agricultural production.
In the program’s first three enrollment years (2009, 2010, and 2011), NRCS has enrolled 30,197 farmers and ranchers operating nearly 38 million acres of farm and ranch land that is now under five-year, renewable CSP conservation contracts. For those first three enrollment classes, annual CSP payments are currently over $510 million a year on a nationwide basis.
The enrollment process is competitive, based on environmental benefits, and will be even more competitive than usual in 2012 as the total acres to be enrolled will be as much as a third less than the 12.8 million acre per year level provided by the 2008 Farm Bill. The 2012 iteration of CSP will have an enrollment cap between 9 and 10 million acres due to a budget cut to the program made by Congress in the fiscal year 2012 Agricultural Appropriations Act.
Eligible lands include cropland, grassland, prairie land, improved pastureland, rangeland, non-industrial private forest lands, and agricultural land under tribal jurisdiction. Applicants must demonstrate they have effective control over these lands to be eligible, either through ownership or reasonably secure leases.
Producers wanting more detailed information may want to review NSAC's Farmers’ Guide to the Conservation Stewardship Program available for free download by clicking here. The guide provides clear information on conservation activities eligible for CSP payments to improve conservation performance and environmental benefits. It also includes step-by-step enrollment guidance, key definitions and helpful hints. A new five-page section of the Guide provides data on the program’s first two sign-up periods in 2009 and 2010. This data section includes analysis of program participation by geographic region, land use type, commodity type, and the top conservation practices and enhancements chosen by farmers and ranchers who have enrolled in the program.
For more information, click here.
The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition is a grassroots alliance that advocates for federal policy reform supporting the long-term social, economic, and environmental sustainability of agriculture, natural resources, and rural communities.
California is bracing for rare January wildfires this week amid damaging Santa Ana winds coupled with unusually hot and dry winter weather.
High winds, gusting up to 80- to 90 miles per hour in some parts of the state, are expected to last through Wednesday evening. Nearly the entire state has been in a drought for months, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, which, alongside summerlike temperatures, has left vegetation dry and flammable.
Utilities Southern California Edison and PG&E, which serves the central and northern portions of the state, warned it may preemptively shut off power to hundreds of thousands of customers to reduce the risk of electrical fires sparked by trees and branches falling on live power lines. The rare January fire conditions come on the heels of the worst wildfire season ever recorded in California, as climate change exacerbates the factors causing fires to be more frequent and severe.
California is also experiencing the most severe surge of COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, with hospitals and ICUs over capacity and a stay-at-home order in place. Wildfire smoke can increase the risk of adverse health effects due to COVID, and evacuations forcing people to crowd into shelters could further spread the virus.
As reported by AccuWeather:
In the atmosphere, air flows from high to low pressure. The setup into Wednesday is like having two giant atmospheric fans working as a team with one pulling and the other pushing the air in the same direction.
Normally, mountains to the north and east of Los Angeles would protect the downtown which sits in a basin. However, with the assistance of the offshore storm, there will be areas of gusty winds even in the L.A. Basin. The winds may get strong enough in parts of the basin to break tree limbs and lead to sporadic power outages and sparks that could ignite fires.
"Typically, Santa Ana winds stay out of downtown Los Angeles and the L.A. Basin, but this time, conditions may set up just right to bring 30- to 40-mph wind gusts even in those typically calm condition areas," said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Mike Doll.
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