USDA Seeks Public Comments

USDA Seeks Public Comments on Conservation Practice Standards

March 11, 2019, WASHINGTON – USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) announced today it is seeking public input on its existing national conservation practice standards as part of implementing the 2018 Farm Bill. NRCS offers 150-plus conservation practices to America’s farmers, ranchers and forest landowners to help them meet their business and natural resource needs on their working lands.

“With the help of NRCS, agricultural producers across the country are taking voluntary steps to improve their operations while benefiting natural resources,” NRCS Chief Matthew Lohr said. “As part of our process of implementing the 2018 Farm Bill, we are asking agricultural producers, conservation partners and others to provide feedback on our practice standards in an effort to refine and enhance them.”

NRCS is requesting public comments on how to improve conservation practice standards that support programs such as the Environmental Quality Incentives Program and Conservation Stewardship Program, which help producers cover part of the costs for implementing these practices. The comment period ends April 25, 2019. More information can be found in the Federal Register. offsite link image    

These standards provide guidelines for planning, designing, installing, operating and maintaining conservation practices. [Read more…]

Apply for Available Federal Funding for Conservation Practices

NRCS Announces Second EQIP Signup for 2019 Funding, APPLY BY May 17, 2019

Providing Conservation Practices to Protect Natural Resources

Madison, Wis. – February 25, 2019 – Farmers and forest landowners can apply now for a second round of USDA conservation funding. Angela Biggs, USDA−Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) State Conservationist in Wisconsin, announced farmers and forest landowners interested in the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) need to APPLY BY MAY 17, 2019, for funding in 2019. Applications are being taken at all USDA Service Centers      in Wisconsin for select special initiatives. Don’t delay; contact your local USDA Service Center NOW to get started.

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Public Hearings on Forest Tax Law Administrative Code

WI DNR has announced public hearings on proposed permanent rules to revise administrative code chapter NR 46 relating to the forest tax law programs – Forest Crop Law and Managed Forest Law.  Administrative codes are used by the WI DNR to interpret state statutes and set policies in administering the laws.

These proposed language changes are a result of 2015 Act 358 which made numerous changes to WI State Statute chapter 77 subchapters I (Forest Cropland) and VI (Managed Forest Lands).

To review the proposed administrative code changes and overview summary by WI DNR, read FR-23-16

Proposed changes include:

  • changes in how forest productivity is determined
  • definitions of buildings, hunting blinds, grazing, material changes to the MFL program, restoration, productivity, utilities
  • eligibility for renewals and additions to MFL
  • requirements under mandatory practices
  • when you can enter into leases or agreements
  • public access requirements for open MFL lands
  • how DNR can amend your MFL contract
  • determines when restoration efforts are needed to regain productivity and what the landowner will have to pay
  • how withdrawals and voluntary withdrawals will be handled

[Read more…]

Public Input wanted on Updated Wetland Determination Guidance

USDA Continues to Seek Public Input on its Updated Wetland Determination Guidance

Public comment period for wetland conservation compliance rule open through February 5

Jan. 18, 2019, WASHINGTON – Farmers are reminded that updated guidelines for wetland determinations are posted and available for public input. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) wants to remind the public that the 60-day comment period for the updated guidance is open through February 5. This opportunity to comment is not impacted by the lapse in appropriations. Those interested in participating are encouraged to review and comment on the interim final rule on the Federal Register offsite link image    .

Comments may be submitted using any of the following methods: [Read more…]

2018 Timber Tax Tips

The U.S. Forest Service has released the 2018 Tax Tips for Forest Landowners.  The Federal income tax provisions that apply to timber have changed for the 2018 tax year from the December 2017 new tax legislation.

To help family timber owners, foresters and their tax preparers in filing their 2018 tax returns, this bulletin provides income tax guidance that is current as of September 30, 2018.

Share these with your accountant!

Proposed Forest Tax Law Handbook Update Available for Public Comment

The Division of Forestry, Tax Law Section is soliciting public comment on proposed update to the Forest Tax Law Handbook (Handbook 2450.5), Chapter 20, Harvesting on MFL.

The draft is available on the Proposed DNR Program Guidance webpage  and comments will be accepted through December 5, 2018. Click on the link for more information.

WI Storm Damage Cost-sharing Available

The WI DNR and USDA, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) are both offering cost-sharing funds to assist Wisconsin woodland owners with storm damage clean up.

WI DNR Chief State Forester, Fred Souba, approved the use of emergency Wisconsin Forest Landowner Grant Program (WFLGP) funds for woodland owners statewide affected by high winds, tornadoes, and flooding which commenced on August 20, 2018 and is outlined in Governor Walker’s Executive Order #306.

Applications through your local WI DNR forester will be accepted on a continuous basis through the end of the fiscal year and if approved will receive immediate funding.  Emergency Funding Request should be written at the top of the application for priority processing.  Application must meet WFLGP requirements and eligibility criteria.  The maximum cost share amount is $10,000.  Landowners will be reimbursed for up to 60% of their expenses for practices approved by their WI DNR forester.  Landowners will have 24 months to complete the approved practices.

NRCS is offering cost-sharing assistance for storm damage through their Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) Special Incentive Opportunities – 2018 Storm Relief.  These funds are only available for select counties as designed on the MAP. 

Both Foresters and Landowners should communicate with their local NRCS District Conservationist in their local Service Center as soon as possible.  Landowner eligibility rules apply, however, Forest Management Plans are not required for this sign up.  All applications are due to select NRCS service centers by November 16, 2018.   This sign up is targeting but not limited to Conservation Practices Standards Forest Stand Improvement and Woody Residue Treatment.  The resource concern for these practices are degraded plant condition; wildfire, excessive biomass accumulation and or degraded plant condition; excessive plant pressure (insect & disease).

 

Federal Federal Funding Available for Conservation Practices

NRCS Announces EQIP Signup for 2019 Funding, Apply by November 16, 2018

Providing Conservation Practices to Protect Natural Resources

Farmers and forest landowners will want to plan ahead and sign up early for USDA conservation funding. Angela Biggs, USDA−Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) State Conservationist in Wisconsin, announced farmers and forest landowners interested in the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) need to apply by November 16, 2018, for funding in 2019. Applications are being taken at all USDA Service Centers  in Wisconsin.

EQIP is the primary program available to woodland conservation work including writing management plans, offering payments for over 110 basic conservation practices. Last year, Wisconsin received over $35 million in funds for EQIP practices.

 

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Farmers Invited to Cardinal-Hickory Creek Project Meetings

MADISON – Farmers whose land may be affected by the proposed Cardinal-Hickory Creek power line should attend one of three meetings scheduled in November, where they will be able to talk with staff from the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection who are preparing an agricultural impact statement. 

[Read more…]

USDA Resumes Continuous Conservation Reserve Program Enrollment

One-Year Extension Available to Holders of Many Expiring Contracts through Continuous Signup

WASHINGTON, June 1, 2018 – As part of a 33-year effort to protect sensitive lands and improve water quality and wildlife habitat on private lands, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will resume accepting applications for the voluntary Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). Eligible farmers, ranchers, and private landowners can sign up at their local Farm Service Agency (FSA) office between June 4 and Aug. 17, 2018.

“The Conservation Reserve Program is an important component of the suite of voluntary conservation programs USDA makes available to agricultural producers, benefiting both the land and wildlife. On the road, I often hear firsthand how popular CRP is for our recreational sector; hunters, fishermen, conservationists and bird watchers,” U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said. “CRP also is a powerful tool to encourage agricultural producers to set aside unproductive, marginal lands that should not be farmed to reduce soil erosion, improve water quality, provide habitat for wildlife and boost soil health.”

FSA stopped accepting applications last fall for the CRP continuous signup (excluding applications for the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) and CRP grasslands). This pause allowed USDA to review available acres and avoid exceeding the 24 million-acre CRP cap set by the 2014 Farm Bill. New limited practice availability and short sign up period helps ensure that landowners with the most sensitive acreage will enroll in the program and avoid unintended competition with new and beginning farmers seeking leases. CRP enrollment currently is about 22.7 million acres.

2018 Signup for CRP

For this year’s signup, limited priority practices are available for continuous enrollment. They include grassed waterways, filter strips, riparian buffers, wetland restoration and others. To view a full list of practices, please visit the CRP Continuous Enrollment Period page.

FSA will use updated soil rental rates to make annual rental payments, reflecting current values. It will not offer incentive payments as part of the new signup.

USDA will not open a general signup this year, however, a one-year extension will be offered to existing CRP participants with expiring CRP contracts of 14 years or less. Producers eligible for an extension will receive a letter with more information.

[Read more…]