Public comments submitted on USDA’s newest reorganization proposal

Last week, NACD gave its take on USDA’s second reorganization proposal to consolidate mission support activities – i.e. IT, HR, leasing, and procurement services – for NRCS, the Farm Service Agency, and the Risk Management Agency at the Farm Production and Conservation mission area level.

NACD President Brent Van Dyke was in Washington, D.C., as well to meet with USDA officials to articulate conservation district priorities and concerns regarding the proposed reorganization.

Based on the limited information USDA has provided on this proposal, NACD is concerned that lumping all of the RMA, FSA, and NRCS mission support activities together at the mission area level will impose greater bureaucratic burdens on these agencies and could adversely affect the delivery of conservation assistance and programs.

NACD submitted comments on this newest proposal, along with a list of important questions NACD would like answered. You can read those questions here in NACD’s Newsroom.

CRP continuous sign-up resumes

Last week, USDA announced that it will once again be processing applications for continuous sign-up in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). USDA suspended processing last May when it reached the cap on the number of acres allowed in the program. Now, all applications made between May and the end of September will be processed, while new applications made after October 1 will continue to be suspended. Interested in applying for CRP? You should still send in your application. That will ensure you are at the front of the line once USDA begins processing new applications again.

District Official Training Program checklist application due the first of December

If your state is interested in joining the 26 states that NACD recognizes as having an approved District Official Training Program, please contact Southeast Representative Phylis Vandevere for more information and/or to receive a copy of the DOTP checklist application. To be considered for inclusion in NACD’s 2018 DOTP recognition program, your state association must submit its checklist to Phylis by December 1, 2017.

Jefferson Conservation District, Colorado

The Jefferson Conservation District (JCD) has been serving Jefferson, Clear Creek, and Gilpin Counties throughout Colorado’s Front Range on a variety of natural resource concerns since 1942. The unique rural and urban interface enables JCD to serve many populations, including urban food deserts and USDA StrikeForce counties, which have a 20 percent or higher rate of persistent poverty.

While the district’s urban agriculture program began in 2009 with an AmeriCorps VISTA position, NACD’s Urban Agriculture Conservation Grant Initiative allowed the district to design and launch an intern program. Three interns started work in the spring leading on-farm demonstrations and workshops, managing an equipment share program for urban agriculturists, and engaging community members through social media, publications, and other forms of outreach. In addition to these services, each intern took on a special project:

  • Grazing Management Project at 5 Fridge Farms in cooperation with the NRCS/CSU extension agent

  • Food Distribution Project with GOFARM Co-op

  • Urban Agriculture Photo Book Project

During the JCD’s End of Summer Soiree (an annual meeting and dinner), special presentations were given by each of the interns as the community celebrated their program graduation.

The district’s partners on this project include the Colorado Agriculture Leadership Program, USDA NRCS, Colorado State University Extension, GoFarm, and local urban agriculture producers from Five Fridge farms, Micro Farms, Jefferson farms, Living Land farm, True Roots, and Everitt farms.

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