What are Your Natural Resource Concerns?

Now is the time when local Soil and Water Conservation Districts in conjunction with Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) offices are gathering data on the most important natural resources concerns for their areas.

Some districts, such as Pipestone, hold local listening sessions for area producers to stop by and give input on what their top natural resource concerns are.

“We’d like to visit with local producers on what they feel are the natural resource concerns that are the most important to them,” said Jerry Purdin, Pipestone NRCS district conservationist.
   
Whatever method is chosen, the conservation needs assessment is the standard document that’s given to the state technical committee by the end of August. The state technical committee develops the financial funding for programs like the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). The programs offer financial incentives to farmers for implementing conservation practices.

The programs focus on conservation concerns like soil erosion, soil quality and water quality. The needs assessment will address conservation concerns by having the local work group rank resource concerns in order of priority for conservation programs. These concerns include: air quality, livestock production, wildlife habitat, energy, excess water, insufficient water, water quality, soil erosion, soil quality plant condition, animal and plants.

“We can make suggestions on adding practices and we can make suggestions on payment rates,” Purdin said.
When making suggestions, like payment rates, the work group must have reasoning behind their recommendations. An example of this would be if they wanted to see $75 offered for every acre producers plant cover crops on, then they would need a reason, like the cost to plant cover crops.

Developing needs assessments gives NRCS and SWCD personnel opportunities to decide where money should be spent, what some of the road blocks are that prevent producers from using conservation practices, and to identify high priority geographical areas.

The state technical committee uses the information to create payment rates and types of practices together for the 2016 conservation programs for districts across the entire state.

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