Conservation

As an advocate for healthy, vibrant rural communities, the Center for Rural Affairs has seen the important role that conservation plays for farmers and ranchers.

Conservation practices, such as cover crops, crop rotation, advanced grazing practices, and a host of others, are the bedrock of land stewardship for family farms and ranches. Often, in addition to conserving valuable natural resources such as water and soil, these practices can also offer risk management and economic benefits. For example, building healthy soil allows for greater resiliency to the negative impacts of both drought and heavy rainfall.

Several farm bill programs offer farmers and ranchers valuable support to pursue these conservation practices on their operations. Through the full farm bill cycle, from debate to enactment, the Center for Rural Affairs works to ensure these programs continue to support farmers and ranchers in building the productivity and sustainability of their operations while also managing natural resources.

The Center for Rural Affairs focuses our work on working lands conservation programs, which offer opportunities for farmers and ranchers to conduct conservation activities while continuing production. The Conservation Stewardship Program, or CSP, is a particularly important working lands program that allows farmers and ranchers who are already implementing conservation practices on their land to increase and further strengthen conservation across their operation. Another major working lands program, the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, or EQIP, offers farmers and ranches the opportunity to add individual conservation practices to their operations.

If you are interested in enrolling in these programs, visit your local U.S. Department of Agriculture - Natural Resource Conservation Service office to learn more. Locate your local office here.

The Center for Rural Affairs is committed to ensuring that programs such as CSP and EQIP work for farmers and ranchers, but cannot do it without your engagement. Want to get involved? Contact us at annaj@cfra.org, kateh@cfra.org, or 402.687.2100.

Conservation Notes

 

Center for Rural Affairs May and June 2020 Newsletter

The Center for Rural Affairs is committed to continuing our work for opportunity and justice for everyone in rural America during the rapidly evolving response to the coronavirus.

COVID-19 and the ripple effects will create new challenges for rural people and rural places. Our work may look different in the days ahead, but we will continue to serve our mission in all ways possible.

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Conservation Innovation Grants Beginning Farmer Case Study: Alex McKiernan and Chloe Diegel

Alex McKiernan and Chloe Diegel own Robinette Farms near Martell, Nebraska. Robinette Farms is comprised of 110 acres, with 10 to 12 acres for vegetable production. They grow 40 varieties of crops, during both the warm and cool seasons, utilizing unheated hoop houses and greenhouses. There is also a variety of grazing livestock, including cattle, hogs, broilers, laying hens, and lambs.

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Conservation program allows Iowa farmer to make ‘practical changes’ to improve his operation

Like many farmers, Dan Taylor of Dallas County, Iowa, is adjusting to the new reality under coronavirus. Thankfully, his family has not been touched by the virus, and he is moving forward with planting and conservation practices he had planned for this year.

It’s a routine he’s been doing every spring since graduating from high school in 1978 and going right to work after renting 80 acres of land.

He’s been farming ever since, about 9 miles from the farm he grew up on.

Sortum practices stewardship in the Sandhills

Sarah Sortum always hoped to raise her kids on the family ranch in Nebraska’s eastern Sandhills.

She shares this goal with her brother, as the two want to ensure the ranch’s vitality for generations to come.

“At one point, we began to ask ourselves, ‘What do we want the opportunities to be like for our kids and grandkids 50 years from now? What can we do now that will support them then?’” Sarah said.

South Dakota cousins improve pasture management with CSP

For Charlie and Aaron Johnson, family farming takes on a very literal meaning.

The cousins work together alongside Charlie’s brothers, Allan and Kevin, and Charlie’s son, Jordan, to operate a combined nearly 3,000 acres in Madison, South Dakota.

The Johnsons’ operation includes four major crops—corn, oats, soybeans, and alfalfa hay—in a six-year rotation.