The Johnson County Soil and Water District will hold their next board meeting via Zoom on Monday, April 12th, 2021 at 12:30 PM. To participate, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (319) 337-2322 ext. 3 for meeting details.
NRCS Adds May 7 EQIP Application Cutoff for Iowa Farmers
DES MOINES, IA, April 6, 2021 — Iowa farmers interested in signing up to implement conservation practices on their farms have until May 7 to apply for USDA’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is accepting applications at USDA Service Centers statewide.
Through EQIP, the NRCS provides conservation planning and financial assistance to implement conservation practices such as no-till, cover crops, terraces, grassed waterways, nutrient management, manure management facilities, and pasture management.
This signup is the second for EQIP in Iowa during Fiscal Year 2021. NRCS held a December 2020 signup for Iowa agricultural producers. “We are seeking additional applications for many of our conservation initiatives and targeted conservation efforts,” said Jeff Matthias, Acting EQIP Coordinator for Iowa NRCS.
The May 7 signup cutoff includes all potential EQIP applications. Specific targets include livestock-related applications such as pasture improvements, along with targeted conservation efforts such as the National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI), Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watershed Initiative (MRBI), Prairie Pothole Water Quality Initiative, Organic Initiative, and Wildlife Habitats Initiative including pollinator plantings and forestry.
In addition, Iowa NRCS is seeking applications for the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP-EQIP) Fox River Water Quality Project in Appanoose, Davis, and Van Buren Counties in southeast Iowa.
Interested applicants should contact their local NRCS office. Due to the pandemic, USDA offices are currently open to visitors by appointment only. Visitors are encouraged to call ahead. USDA Service Center staff continue to work with agricultural producers via phone, email, and other digital tools.
More information related to USDA’s COVID response and relief for producers can be found at farmers.gov/coronavirus.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender
Lower Cedar Watershed Farmer Input Needed
The sponsors of the Lower Cedar River Watershed Management Authority (LCWMA), including the Soil & Water Conservation Districts (SWCD) in Cedar, Linn, Louisa, Johnson, Muscatine, and Scott counties, are working to develop a Watershed Management Plan for the area highlighted on the attached map.
We invite producers in these counties to participate in the process of developing this plan.
Please consider attending one of our online focus groups to share your views and ideas. There will be 2 to 3 focus groups on Zoom (an online meeting tool) depending on interest. Each session will include 6 to 8 people and last no more than an hour and a half. Please respond by identifying the date and time listed below that is your first and second choice to attend a focus group. If you know someone that would also like to attend, please share this email to them.
Please respond to Jennifer Fencl (email@example.com) with your availability for at least 2 of the following dates:
Wednesday, March 24th, 10:00 – 11:30 am
Wednesday, March 24th, 6:30 – 8:00 pm
Friday, March 26, 10:00 – 11:30 am
Monday, March 29th, 10:00 – 11:30 am
Monday, March 29th, 6:30 – 8:00 pm
Tuesday, March 30th, 10:00 – 11:30 am
Tuesday, March 30th, 6:30 – 8:00 pm
Wednesday, March 31st, 10:00 – 11:30 am
Wednesday, March 31st, 6:30 – 8:00 pm
Thursday, April 1st, 10:00 – 11:30 am
Thursday, April 1st, 6:30 – 8:00 pm
Long Range Planning Sessions
The Johnson County SWCD Board of Commissioners will be meeting on the following dates to draft the District’s 5-year plan. Meetings will be virtual. Please call (319) 337-2322 ext. 3, or email firstname.lastname@example.org to request a Zoom meeting link to participate:
March 15th, 5:00 PM
March 22nd, 5:00 PM
March 29th, 5:00 PM
April 5th, 5:00 PM
Secretary Naig Encourages Iowans to Apply Now for 2021 Specialty Crop Block Grants
Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig announced today that the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship is now accepting applications for the 2021 Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. To qualify, the grants must be used to support projects that raise awareness about and increase demand for specialty crops grown in Iowa.
“Specialty crop block grants are a win-win for producers, distributors and consumers,” said Secretary Naig. “The programs they support help strengthen local distribution channels, which gives specialty crop producers more markets to sell their products, and they make it easier for consumers to buy protein and produce grown right here in Iowa.”
Eligible specialty crops include both fresh and processed fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, and horticulture and nursery crops, including floriculture.
Successful grant applications should explain how projects will improve specialty crop production through marketing and promotions, research and development, expanding availability and access to specialty crops, and addressing local, regional and national challenges confronting specialty crop producers. All projects must have an educational component. Preference will be given to projects that have the potential to significantly expand, enhance and improve production and demand.
Iowa agencies, universities, institutions, producers, industry associations and community-based organizations are eligible to apply. Single organizations, institutions and individuals are encouraged to participate as project partners. Grant applications for projects that directly benefit a particular product or generate a profit for a single organization, institution or individual will not be awarded.
Awardees may receive up to $24,000 and projects can have a duration of up to 30 months.
Proposals must be received by the Iowa Department of Agriculture on or before 4 p.m./CT on March 11, 2021. For more information, visit the Specialty Crop Block Grant program website.
The Department is establishing a review committee to help evaluate and make recommendations on the submitted grant proposals. Those interested in participating in the review committee should be knowledgeable about specialty crops and/or have grant writing or grant management experience, and be able to devote the time to complete the review process. Additional information about reviewer responsibilities, meeting dates and an application form can also be found at iowaagriculture.gov/agricultural-diversification-market-development-bureau/specialty-crop-block-grant-program. Applications to participate in the Review Committee are due Feb. 11, 2021 by 4 p.m./CT.
JOHNSON SOIL AND WATER CONSERVATION DISTRICT INVITES THE COMMUNITY TO ATTEND A VIRTUAL LONG-RANGE CONSERVATION PLANNING MEETING
The Johnson Soil & Water Conservation District will hold a virtual public meeting on January 13, 2021 at 6:00 p.m. to discuss long-range conservation planning for the county. Agenda for this meeting will aid in development of the District’s Five-Year Soil & Water Resources Conservation Plan. The public is encouraged to attend!
To attend the virtual meeting, please request the meeting link from email@example.com and you will be emailed the meeting link. The public also has the option to join via teleconference phone line.
If you require an accommodation, please notify Marcy McBride @ firstname.lastname@example.org
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits discrimination in all its programs and activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, and where applicable, sex, marital status, familial status, parental status, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, political beliefs, reprisal, or because all or a part of an individual’s income is derived from any public assistance program. (Not all prohibited bases apply to all programs.) Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication of program information (Braille, large print, audiotape, etc.) should contact USDA’s TARGET Center at (202) 720-2600 (voice and TDD). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.
Conservation Districts of Iowa
Conservation Scholarship Application
Class of 2021
Learn More About Iowa S.T.A.R
- Promote a positive image of agriculture in the local community
- Inspire others to take action in helping to meet nutrient loss reduction goals for Iowa
- Increase farm income
- Reduce crop insurance premiums
- Decrease nutrient loss
- Promote producers for new farmland leases
- Secure local conservation cost-share
- Secure market incentives for growing crops using conservation cropping practices
- Obtain documentation in support of water quality issues
Learn More from the Conservation Districts of Iowa
NRCS Sets Dec. 18 Application Cutoff for New EQIP Applications
For immediate release
From: Johnson Soil and Water Conservation District
Local ag producers in Johnson County encouraged to sign up for new S.T.A.R. program
S.T.A.R. enhances soil health and water quality while targeting emerging ag markets
Two critical conservation concepts – managing nutrient loss and protecting soil from erosion –greatly enhance the future of Johnson County agricultural production and help better position farmers for changing weather patterns and to expand into the emerging sustainability marketplace. Today, the Johnson Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) introduces a new program that assists local ag producers who want to target conservation best management practices for their operation with a new program being piloted across the Midwest.
The new program “Saving Tomorrow’s Agriculture Resources” or S.T.A.R.– gives ag producers a free tool that assigns points for each practice producers are using and can use on an individual field level to prove a level of conservation. Crop rotation, no-till, nutrient application, cover crops and other soil conservation activities are graded and points assigned and converted to a rating of 1-to-5 “Stars” for each individual field.
S.T.A.R. makes its debut in Iowa this fall, sponsored by the Conservation Districts of Iowa (CDI) which selected the Johnson SWCD to help inaugurate this significant push to promote soil health and water quality in Iowa.
Johnson SWCD Board Chairman Alex Schmidt encourages local ag producers to sign up now for the free tool and take advantage of the short- and long-term benefits participation reaps. “We’re excited to be one of the first 25 counties in Iowa CDI selected to be part of this pilot program, and I believe local farmers will find value in quantifying the good work they are already doing and seeing how additional practices can improve their score” Schmidt says.
“We have a culture of respect for the land here, with an understanding that farming is a business,” says Schmidt. “The S.T.A.R program works to improve the land through workable conservation practices, while increasing productivity and net profitability. It takes a commitment to accomplish those goals. With uncertain markets, weather and a water quality crisis S.T.A.R. may be the path forward and open newmarketing opportunities for our crops.”
According to CDI President Dennis Carney, landowners and ag producers who sign up for the free S.T.A.R. program can expect “unexpected” benefits. “When a landowner commits to applying sound soil health and water quality practices to their fields in a program that evaluates and documents their success – which S.T.A.R. does – they may see both conservation and economic benefits,” says Carney. “Certainly, we can establish decreased nutrient loss, keep more phosphorus in the field, and prevent water runoff. But also consider the potential for increased net farm income, and a chance to leverage market premiums from buyers who more and more demand proof that farm products be grown in sustainable environments.”
S.T.A.R Program Director Carlee Sabus adds that participation in S.T.A.R. may assist operators in securing local conservation cost share (when available), generate documentation to support potential water quality improvements, and help landowners evaluate a tenants’ level of commitment to conservation when renting their land.
To sign up, Producers fill out a simple field form that Sabus says takes about three minutes to answer questions for one field. Each field is assigned a “S.T.A.R.” rating from one-to-five stars and participants earn certificates to recognize their cooperation and level in the program from Johnson County SWCD and CDI. As the carbon and sustainability markets begin to grow, these certificates provide verified documentation that the commodity from this field was produced sustainably.
“We believe operators who sign up for S.T.A.R. will discover how easy it can be to prevent runoff and protect our water supplies,” says Sabus. “They’ll see the importance of taking the time to plan and execute a sustainable farming strategy that yeilds tremendous rewards.”
For learn more or sign up, please contact S.T.A.R. Program Manager Carlee Sabus at email@example.com
The Johnson County Soil and Water Conservation District and the Natural Resources Conservation Service can assist you with projects related to soil, water, air, plants, or animals in Johnson County, Iowa.
We provide free technical assistance in protecting these resources and can also assist with applications for funding.
We can help farmers and urban homeowners conserve soil and improve water quality through state and federal cost-share and incentive programs.