Federal government aids landowners

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With the new Farm Bill (which was approved in 2008) finally rolling out some new programs and policies (it's the federal government, we're slow) it's a good idea for every landowner or land manager to get in touch and find out what services are available to help them. Here are just a few of the things that the Natural Resources Conservation Service offices are doing locally.

We still have our Environmental Quality Incentives Program available for landowners who need help to install structures to better help them manage their property. Structures include cross fencing, stock water pipelines, tanks, water control structures and rock veins in the river. The NRCS will cover half the cost to help landowners install these structures. However, a person can't just come in and get money to install these structures without a field visit from someone in the NRCS office. We want to make sure that we understand the need for the structure and make sure landowners are also aware of the importance of management.

Basically, we look at cause and effect and encourage the landowner to better manage or tweak their management of the resource. This leads to a comprehensive plan. For instance, if the ground is grazed, the NRCS office and the landowner will develop a grazing management plan. A plan is established that the landowner is comfortable with, which could require a lot or a little management, whichever works best for the client and the pasture or rangeland. The comprehensive plan allows for better management or better knowledge of management for the natural resources of concern, which means that the federal government doesn't want to pay for a stock tank if the landowner is going to continue to overgraze the ground.

The newest program to be rolled out with the Farm Bill is the Conservation Stewardship Program. Finally, the government has realized that most agricultural and livestock producers are doing good things for the land while also trying to make a living.

This program awards landowners for the good work they are doing, while also encouraging them to take their conservation efforts to the next level. The great thing about this program is that it is customized for each landowner because no one is the same. A higher level of conservation for one landowner may be too high or too little for another landowner.

This program allows the landowners to pick and choose the level that they are comfortable with and a level that will work best for their operation. Landowners who are awarded a contract with this program will receive a yearly payment per acre of ground enrolled for five years. Prices per acre vary significantly depending on land use and the level of conservation tied to that land. Now is the time to become more familiar with it so you can make it work for you.

If you have any natural resource concerns, please stop in and see us, or call for an appointment at 879-3225, ext. 3. We are here to help so you can attain your goal.

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