Thursday, June 30, 2016

USDA Announces $8.4 Million to Support a Diverse Next Generation of Farmers and Ranchers

Release No. 0156.16 Contact: Office of Communications (202)720-4623 USDA Announces $8.4 Million to Support a Diverse Next Generation of Farmers and Ranchers WASHINGTON, June 30, 2016 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced the availability of $8.4 million in competitive grants to support the work of partner organizations that provide training, outreach and technical assistance for socially disadvantaged, Tribal and Veteran farmers and ranchers. USDA's Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers Program, also known as the 2501 Program, is administered by the Office of Advocacy and Outreach (OAO). "Diverse experiences, background and education are vital to a healthy agricultural sector that continues to meet the challenges of a changing world and the demands of markets at home and abroad," said Acting Deputy Agriculture Secretary Michael Scuse. "The 2501 Program is an important part of how USDA partners with land-grant universities, Tribal colleges, Tribes, nonprofits and other community-based organizations to grow the next generation of agricultural innovators and entrepreneurs that keep American agriculture the most productive anywhere." Since 2010, more than $74 million has been invested through the 2501 Program to leverage the work of more than 300 local partners. The 2014 Farm Bill reauthorized the program and expanded assistance to include military veterans. Partner organizations provide a range of services and technical assistance based on local needs. Last fall, for example, 2501 funding was used to create the Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers Policy Research Center at Alcorn State University, in Lorman, Miss. The Center will provide a national hub for analysis and development of policy recommendations to improve engagement and promote the interests of socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers. Proposals for these competitive grants must be received by July 29, 2016 at Details are available in the June 27, 2016 Federal Register Notice or by contacting USDA, by mail at Office of Advocacy and Outreach, Attn: Kenya Nicholas, Program Director, Whitten Building, Room 520-A, Mail Stop 0601, 1400 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20250, by phone: (202) 720-6350, Fax: (202) 720-7704, or email OAO works across USDA agencies to improve the viability and profitability of small and beginning farmers and ranchers; improve access to USDA programs for historically underserved communities; increase agricultural opportunities for farm workers; and close the professional achievement gap by providing opportunities for diverse, talented young people to support the agricultural industry in the 21st century. The 2501 program supports USDA's Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food (KYF2) Initiative that coordinates the Department's work to develop strong local and regional food systems. USDA is committed to helping farmers, ranchers, and businesses access the growing market for local and regional foods, which industry estimates valued at $12 billion in 2014. Learn more about USDA investments connecting producers with consumers and expanding rural economic opportunities online at USDA Results - New Markets, New Opportunities. #

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Conservation Works

New Study Quantifies Benefits of Agricultural Conservation in Upper Mississippi River Basin WASHINGTON, June 22, 2016 - Researchers at the U.S. Geological Survey and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have published a new study that demonstrates that agricultural conservation practices in the upper Mississippi River watershed can reduce nitrogen inputs to area streams and rivers by as much as 34 percent. The study combined USDA's Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP) data with the USGS SPARROW watershed model to measure the potential effects of voluntary conservation practices, which historically have been difficult to do in large river systems, because different nutrient sources can have overlapping influences on downstream water quality. "These results provide new insights on the benefits of conservation practices in reducing nutrient inputs to local streams and rivers and ultimately to the Gulf of Mexico," said Sarah Ryker, Interior's acting assistant deputy for Water and Science. "The incorporation of agricultural conservation practice information into watershed models helps us better understand where water quality conditions are improving and prioritize where additional conservation actions are needed." Until this study, nutrient reductions have been difficult to detect in the streams because changes in multiple sources of nutrients (including non-agricultural sources) and natural processes (e.g., hydrological variability, channel erosion) can have confounding influences that conceal the effects of improved farming practices on downstream water quality. The models used in this study overcame these difficulties to help validate the downstream benefits of farmers' conservation actions on the land. "As the results of this valuable collaboration with the USGS indicate, voluntary conservation on agricultural lands is improving water quality. When multiple farmers, ranchers and working forest land managers in one region come together to apply the conservation science, the per acre conservation benefit is greatly enhanced," said USDA Natural Resources and Environment Deputy Under Secretary Ann Mills. "While there are no short-term solutions to complex water quality issues, USDA is committed to continuing these accelerated voluntary conservation efforts, using collaborative science to target conservation in watersheds where the greatest benefits can be realized." Nutrient reductions attributable to agricultural conservation practices in the region ranged from five to 34 percent for nitrogen and from one to 10 percent for total phosphorus, according to the study published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology. High levels of nutrients containing nitrogen and phosphorus from agricultural and urban areas contribute to hypoxic regions (low oxygen "dead zones") in offshore marine waters. The study underscored evidence that slowing the water and routing it into the ground can significantly reduce the nitrogen that is eventually transported to streams. Structural and erosion control practices, such as conservation tillage, in the Upper Mississippi River Basin have been shown to reduce runoff and peak flows, thereby increasing water infiltration into the soils and the subsurface geology. An added benefit of these conservation actions is that, in some areas, hydrological and biogeochemical conditions in the subsurface can promote the removal of nitrogen by natural biological processes. Phosphorus reductions were lower than was seen for nitrogen, possibly because of long time lags between conservation actions and the time it may take for sediment-bound phosphorus to move downstream. In addition, some erosion control practices, such as no-till and reduced tillage, have been shown to increase soluble phosphorus levels in farm runoff, which can potentially offset some benefits from erosion control practices. The innovative approach combined information from process-based models from USDA's Agricultural Research Service and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) with a USGS hybrid statistical and process-based model to quantify the environmental benefits of agricultural conservation practices at a regional scale. The USGS watershed model was calibrated with data from over 700 water-quality monitoring stations operated by numerous local, state, and federal agencies throughout the Upper Mississippi River basin. The investigation used the most recently available farmer survey data from CEAP (2003-2006), together with stream water-quality data that are approximately coincident with the time period (1980s to 2004, with the average centered on 2002) over which farmer conservation practices, as measured in the survey, were adopted. Additional information on the USGS SPARROW modeling approach and a nutrient mapper and an online decision support tool for the Mississippi River basin is available online. USDA established CEAP to provide more quantitative science-based guidance on the benefits of conservation practices and identify further treatment needs. CEAP data have been useful in providing information and guidance on the best use of funding for conservation and to facilitate the alignment of conservation programs with national environmental protection priorities such as the restoration of the Gulf of Mexico. Since 2009, USDA has invested more than $29 billion to help producers make conservation improvements, working with a record 500,000 farmers, ranchers and landowners to protect land and water on over 400 million acres nationwide. For an interactive look at USDA's work in conservation and forestry over the course of this Administration, visit USDA Results: Caring for our Air, Land and Water. #

USDA, Interior Announce More Than $47 Million in Investments for Water Conservation, Energy Efficiency, Drought Response & Agriculture Operations Across the West

USDA, Interior Announce More Than $47 Million in Investments for Water Conservation, Energy Efficiency, Drought Response & Agriculture Operations Across the West USDA Secretary Vilsack, Reclamation Commissioner López Announce Strengthened Collaboration to Address Water Supply & Demand Imbalances BRIGHTON, Colo., June 23, 2016 – The U.S. Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Interior today announced more than $47 million in investments to help water districts and producers on private working lands better conserve water resources. The funds include $15 million in USDA funds and $32.6 million from the Bureau of Reclamation for local projects to improve water and energy efficiency and provide a strengthened federal response to ongoing and potential drought across 13 states in the West. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Reclamation Commissioner Estevan Lopez announced the funding in Brighton, Colo. The Bureau of Reclamation funding will support 76 local projects through the Department of the Interior's WaterSMART program. Funding from USDA's Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) will support on-farm water delivery system improvements through its Environmental Quality Incentives Program, in tandem with the 76 Interior-funded projects. Vilsack and Lopez were joined by a local water authority and landowner who spoke about the importance of the federal funding in the cost share program. "By working with communities and producers to more wisely manage the water they have, we help ensure that this and future generations will have sufficient supplies of clean water for drinking, agriculture, economic activities, recreation, and ecosystem health," said Secretary Vilsack. "As drought continues across the west, our farmers and ranchers are stepping up to the plate to partner with communities and strengthen efficiency to better conserve our water supply." "Water and energy efficiency are intricately linked," Commissioner López said. "When we conserve water, we also conserve the energy it takes to move it. One way we can achieve these efficiencies is to bring federal resources to the table for local projects that focus on saving water. This program represents one more way we're focusing resources on projects to provide resiliency in the face of drought." Interior's funding is made available through competitive grant programs, which are part of the WaterSMART sustainable water initiative. The grants and selection process are managed by Interior's Bureau of Reclamation, which is the nation's largest wholesale water supplier, providing one in five western farmers with irrigation water for 10 million acres of farmland and potable water to more than 31 million Americans across 17 western states. Of the 76 new projects announced today, Reclamation has selected 53 projects in 11 states to receive a total of $25.6 million in WaterSMART Water and Energy Efficiency Grants which, when leveraged with local and other funding sources, will complete more than $128 million in efficiency improvements. In addition to the new grants announced today, Reclamation will provide $2.1 million to support previously selected WaterSMART projects. Together, these projects are expected to enable water savings of more than 123,000 acre-feet. More details on the program and projects announced today can be found on the WaterSMART Water and Energy Efficiency Grants website. Alongside the 53 water and energy efficiency grants, Reclamation also selected 23 additional cost share grants through its WaterSMART Drought Response Program, totaling $4.9 million, which when leveraged with cost-share funding will provide a total of $23.5 million in efforts associated with the program. More detail on the program and the projects announced today can be found on the Drought Response Program website. Through its EQIP program, NRCS is investing $5.2 million in on-farm assistance to complement several projects that have been funded previously by BOR, and will provide an additional $10 million in 2017 to support some of the Reclamation projects announced today. NRCS is able to complement WaterSMART investments by targeting assistance in areas where WaterSMART sponsors indicated that water delivery system improvements might facilitate future on-farm improvements. NRCS will work with producers in select WaterSMART project areas to offer financial and technical assistance for practices that increase on-farm efficiencies, such as improving irrigation systems. USDA works with private landowners to implement voluntary conservation practices that conserve and clean the water we drink. USDA support—leveraged with historic outside investments—boosts producer incomes and rewards them for their good work. At the same time, USDA investments have brought high quality water and waste services to rural communities, which are vital to their continued health and economic viability. For information on USDA's drought mitigation efforts, visit USDA Drought Programs and Assistance. To learn more about how NRCS is helping private landowners adapt to changing climate conditions including drought, visit the NRCS' drought resources. This partnership is a priority action identified in the President's Memorandum Building National Capabilities for Long-Term Drought Resilience and accompanying the Federal Drought Action Plan. USDA, as permanent co-chair, is working with DOI and other members of the National Drought Resilience Partnership to better coordinate drought-related programs and policies, help communities reduce the impact of current drought events and prepare for future droughts. #

Friday, June 10, 2016

Approved in todays meeting.

STATE OF NEW MEXICO PECOS VALLEY WATER USERS ORGANIZATION RESOLUTION 2016-1 RE: Lower Pecos Water Planning Process Where AS: The Pecos Valley Water Users Organization has been an active participant in regional water planning since before 1998, and has historic roots back to the 1880’s and, Where As: It is our understanding that the Interstate Stream Commission (ISC) and the Office of the State Engineer (OSE) saw the need to update regional water plans from 2001 and, Where AS: The ISC and OSE had limited funds appropriated from the New Mexico State Legislature to accomplish such an update and, Where AS: The ISC and OSE contracted for technical information to be compiled, analyzed, and published. The time line for completion of the project and review of the draft was insufficient for such a large undertaking and, Where AS: This technical information was not submitted for review by the regional water planning steering committee or for direction or assistance or for public review and comments until the draft was completed and, Where AS: There are numerous and obvious error on the economy of many of the counties which are within the region. There are errors concerning Agriculture, in that Agriculture is not treated as a base industry, as the U. S. Department of Home Land Security has designated. The economic impact of agriculture is not addressed as other base line industries are in the technical portion of the propose revision of the regional water plan. The livestock water use section is completely and totally inaccurate and insufficient and, Where AS: Agriculture is the majority water right holder in the region, and the misrepresentation in the technical portion is so grievous as to cause economic harm to rural communities and counties. THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT WE, the member of the Pecos Valley Water Users Organization do respectfully request that the technical section be reviewed and corrected by an Agriculture Economist and /or rural Development Specialist who knows the economy of rural New Mexico such as the Agriculture Economic Department of the New Mexico State University in cooperation with the Range Improvement Task Force, The Natural Resource Conservation Service and Farm Service Agencies and, BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED: That this review will be accomplished with the members of the Pecos Valley Water Users Organization in full public transparency. APPROVED AND ADOPTED this 10 day of June, 2016 _______________________________________ Woods E. Houghton, Chairman, Representing all of those who were in attendance at the 10 June 2016 meeting of the Pecos Valley Water Users Organization, roll call vote on record. STATE OF NEW MEXICO ) ) ss. County of Eddy ) The foregoing instrument was acknowledged before me this ______ day of __________, 20 ___ by _______________________ of the ___________________________________________________. ______________________________ Notary Public My commission expires ____________, 20 ____.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Woods comments section 2

Comments Section 2 Need to include. The Pecos Water Users Organization is a well-established organization with some root going back as far as the 1880’s. This organization worked to produce the 2002 regional water plan. While other organization in the state disbanded this organization saw the value of having a non-legal, non-binding forum for communication and free exchange of ideas, needs and assistance. They continued to meet at least annually but more often quarterly until the current planning process started. Because of the difference in approach this time around there were conflicts and disagreements. Outreach plan includes: 1. News releases to local mas media 2. E-mail mailing list 3. Facebook page 4. E-blog news letter Instead of holding public meeting to review the completed plan as was done in the 2002 plan it has been proposed that NMSU would host or other host a web meeting which each of the County Extension Offices could arrange for public participation as well as other governmental agencies such as city, county, and federal. This will be done once the final draft is completed. This would save on travel expense and it would be recorded for others to review at their own scheduling.

Tomorrow Fri 10 June at 10:00

Reminder that tomorrow at 10:00 am in the Community Center Eddy County Fair well will have or last meeting before submission. Comment on Section 2 and section 8.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Meeting June 10, 2016

Reminder that we will be meeting with the ISC and OSE on June 10, 2016 in the Community Building Eddy County Fair Grounds,at 10:00-1:00. Please down load and review sections 2 and 8 of the proposed plan. This is an open and public meeting so you may invite or bring anyone who has concerns.